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Arlon, Institut Archéologique du Luxembourg

It is a bit confusing that the Institut Archéologique du Luxembourg is apparently not in Luxembourg. In the nineteenth century, the old archduchy was divided into two halves; the western part became part of Belgium, the eastern part became an independent state. Both are called Luxembourg, but the state is of course more famous. The archaeological institute I visited today, is in the Belgian province.

It had been on my wish list for at least twelve years, but it was worth waiting for. The lower floor contains a giant collection of ancient sculpture, made of sandstone. Don’t expect the refinement of the classical marble statues; the art of Arlon is provincial and has a certain coarseness. It is also powerful, vital, and strong. If you like the collections in the Steinhalle in Mainz or the Lapidarium in Stuttgart, you will also appreciate Arlon.

Some reliefs show soldiers, other married people. I read several dedications and one long epitaph of a soldier of the Eighth Legion Augusta. There was an almost suspiciously perfect ballerina, a column dedicated with deities, a fine Bacchus with an equally fine Ariadne, and a relief that showed the Treveran thrashing machine.

The museum also has some nice pottery, including a terracotta fish trap, something I had never seen before. As always, I had to smile at the little perfume bottles. Dolls help you visual the way the ancient Treverans dressed themselves. You can also see two tombs, while upstairs, there is a small Merovingian department.

All in all, a museum that is certainly worth a detour. I would have appreciated explanatory signs in other languages than French; the collection deserves it. Nevertheless, it is a very good museum, with much natural light. When a cloud moves past the sun, the light changes, and the objects are alive again.

I add that Arlon itself is a pleasant town, with some restaurants on the central square. Over there, you will see the monument aux troupes Américaines qui libererent Arlon: an impressive, old tank, still looking like a deadly efficient weapon.

This museum was visited in 2011.

This page was last modified on 27 March 2014.