The Atomium, Brussels

The Atomium is located next to Mini-Europe park (which has miniatures of the famous monuments of EU at a scale of 1:25) beside the King Baudouin Stadium. It is a structure which represents a unit cell of an iron crystal. True to its representation, it has nine spheres made of steel (earlier it was made of aluminum) connected by tubes along the twelve edges of the cube. The structure is 334.6 ft. high with the spheres having diameter of 59 ft. Its stability is ensured by three bipods. The details of the spheres and the locations of the various attractions within the spheres are given in the image here. Please click on the image to enlarge.Location of attractions within the Atomium spheres

The Atomium in Brussels
The Atomium, Brussels

The Atomium was built for Expo’1958 – the 1958 Brussels World fair in Belgium. It was designed by Andre Waterkeyn. (the central sphere has been named after him after his demise). The architects were Andre and Jean Polak. It was meant to last just for the Expo (from 17th April to 19th October 1958) but its popularity resulted in it being made permanent.  The structure is quite impressive.
It is all the more impressive since the skyline is not spoiled by other tall structures. Inside, the tubes which connect the spheres contain escalators, exhibit halls et al. The top sphere affords an excellent panoramic view of the city including an aerial view of the stadium. Three of the upper spheres are closed to public for safety reasons – since they lack the requisite vertical support. The sphere at the pinnacle is open to the public.

About the Spheres-
The top and central spheres are accessible only by lift. The others spheres can be accessed by the steep escalators and these cannot be accessed by people on wheelchairs. The base sphere (called Henri Storck sphere) has permanent exhibition dedicated to the fifties.  The central sphere has a bar. The kids sphere is meant for sleep overs for children from school. This is not open to the public.
The Atomium was closed for nearly two years between 2004 and 2006 for renovation. This was when the aluminium sheets were replaced with steel ones. The interiors were also redone.

More about the Atomium (Atomium Statistics):

Height – 102 metres
Weight – 2400 tons
Surface – 1082 sq. metres / 240 sq. metres per level
Diametre – 18m
20 Tubes
Diameter – 3m
Length – 18m or 23m
Height – 35m
Steps -200
Diameter – 26m
Steps up – 84
Steps Down – 187
Lift Speed – 5m/sec
Construction – 1958
Renovation – 2003-2006

How to get to the Atomium in Brussels –
By metro (subway) –  Get down at the Haysel/Heizal metro station on line 1A. This can taken from Station Brussels Central.

By Coach – Take the Brussels Ring Road, then to exit 8 and then follow the direction to Atomium. It’s well marked.

By car –  For GPS – Eeuwfeestlaan/Blvd. de Centenaire or Atomium Square
B-1020 Brussels (Laken-Laeken)

Information about getting around in Brussels can be obtained from the following Link.

Opening Hours – Open daily from 10 A.M to  6 P.M.
Atomium and Pavilion of Happiness – April – Oct. timings – 10 A.M to 7 P.M. (Thursdays – open till 10 P.M)
The 50th anniversary celebrations of Expo 58  took place between April – October 2008.

Ticket Price – Ranges from Free (for Children less than 12 years, Bus drivers & Disabled persons) to € 9 for Adults. Seniors (over 65 years) – €  6.  The rates differ for groups. Minimum persons required to qualify as a group is 20. Pavilion of Happiness rate is € 5 for everyone. Combo tickets are also available for Pavilion of Temporary Happiness and Atomium.
For the 50th year commemoration of Expo’58, a number of activities based on the Theme “Brussels Happiness” is taking place.

Atomium address – Atomium Square
B-1020 Brussel (Laken)
Tel. +32 (0) 2/475-47-75

Reference: Official site

The Atomium by night is a beautiful sight.

The Atomium by night, Brussels
The Atomium, Brussels
The Atomium by night, Brussels
The Atomium, Brussels
The Atomium in Brussels
The Atomium, Brussels

Located in the city of Brussels, Belgium, Atomium is one of the most important symbols in Brussels. It was built for the 1958 World Fair Exposition in Brussels. It is made up of nine 18 m diameter stainless steel clad spheres that are connected into one unit cell of iron crystal.

It is considered one of the most innovative structures in the world. The building was designed by Andre Waterkeyn, a Belgian engineer. He worked with his brothers-in-law Jean and Andre Polak. Their idea for the structure was to symbolize the capabilities of atomic energy. It was also to represent the peaceful use of atomic energy.

The Atomium is located in the northern part of Brussels. It is easily accessible by metro. It is one of the most popular tourist sites in Brussels. It is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily. It also has a souvenir shop. The museum offers a wide range of educational exhibits.

There are two main levels of the Atomium. The first level is the panorama level. This is the highest level and offers a wonderful view of the city of Brussels. It also has an elevator that takes you to the panoramic viewpoint. You can enjoy a meal in the restaurant located on the top sphere.

The second level is the museum level. There is a permanent exhibition on the history of Atomium. There are also temporary exhibits. The museum is open from 10 am to 6 pm daily.

Atomium – 50th Anniversary of Expo 58, Brussels, Belgium: Part 1

Programs for the 50th year commemoration of Expo 1958 would take place between 18th April and 19th October 2008 in Brussels. The events, partnerships and collaborations are given below. 

These include-

1) The Pavilion of Temporary Happiness which is set up on the Louis Steens Square

Expo 58, 50th anniversary logo

2) The shows/exhibitions in the Pavilion relates to the World’s Fairs especially the Expo’58 and focuses on the ideas, myths and dreams that they promote even today. Of these notable ones include-
Mythologies: The opportunity to peek into the past through interactive games, maps and objects. It would be re-discovering the 1950s.  Prophecies: The history of the World’s Fairs is screened here; from the first World Fair in London in 1851 to the future one in Shanghai in 2010. It encompasses the ideas and goals behind these fairs, along with other aspects of architecture , human science, science and technology and art and science.
Utopias: An interactive opportunity with platform for visitors to share their thoughts and aspirations. Visitors can record their messages about happiness and progress. A number of crates bearing letters, words etc. imitating those in the Lego game are kept heaped there for visitors to arrange into a coherent phrases, words etc.

3) Expo ’58 Between Utopia and Reality –Exhibition on the original Expo of 1958 held in various spheres of the Atomium. This is put together by the Atomium Association, City of Brussels Archives (A.V.B) and the State Archives (Archives Générales du Royaume). Other items, films, scale models including the Civil Engineering Arrow and the Place de Brouckere information centre also grace the exhibition.

4) Cinema at the Atomium – Films will be the focus on the first and third weekend of September. Films would range from American comedy to classic French – all from the 1950s or having ‘50s theme and settings. The films likely to be shown are A bout de soufflé, vertigo, John Waters, Mon Oncle, The girl can’t help it, Et dieu crea la femme. The shows are free and will be held on the plaza near the Atomium. It will be screened from 9 pm.

5) Raising of the Belgian Flag atop the Atomium.

6) Fifty year olds invited to the Atomium – On 21st July 08, 275 Belgians born between 17th April and 19th October 1958 are honored in an evening event from 7:30 pm. Also any person born between these dates can visit the Atomium for free on the day of their birthday.

7) The inauguration of the festivities will include a firework display from the spheres of the Atomium on 17th April 2008 at 10:15 PM.
The same day also sees the inauguration of Art Brussels (a contemporary Art fair) at the Brussels Expo. An Open air statue will be unveiled on the boulevard du Centenaire.

8) The Star of Lucien De Roeck – This is an exhibition dedicated to the creator of the star symbol of Expo’58, Lucien De Roeck. This would be inside the Atomium.

The Atomium at night- a beautiful sight

9) Studio 58 – Between the Atomium and the Place Louis Steens along the Boulevard du Centenaire there would be huge photographs of the Expo 1958 pavilions, the changes made for the Expo, the Lucien de Roeck Star and also works of contemporary photographers.

10) Rock around the Atomium – Its rock ‘n roll for everybody on 28th June 2008. This will be at the foot of the Atomium. Vehicles (cars, mobikes etc.) of the period would be displayed here and also there would be activities for children. Dance workshops are also planned.

11) Atomic Party – On the 19th of July 08 a dance event organized by Gazon and Statik dancin’. A Brussels night life experience.

12) Old Timers – On 25th May 08 there would be a musical parade of classic cars along Blvd. du Centenaire from noon to 6 pm. This is organized by the Belgian Federation of Classic Cars (Fédération belge des véhicules anciens).

13) The Musical Wheel-  This is a an artwork placed in the entrance hall of the Atomium for the celebration period. It is a musical painting which is a  fusion of visual and audio effects. It is interactive i.e. the visitor can walk through the work turning on and off the various sound tracks within the visual board. The visitor is the conductor of the music. This is the collaboration between the Sean O’Hagan of High Llama fame (creator of the symphony- the audio part) and artist Jean-Pierre Muller (creator of the visual part). The work is a Musical Wheel. It is an interactive circular triptych rewriting the story of the wheel  by following the descendents of slaves in their journey to the industrial North of the US.

14) Nature Planet – This artwork is made of pieces of bamboo which came from a program of pruning set up to support new shoots. It is already installed near the Atomium’s ticket office. After dismantling the pieces will be recycled into paper. This work was a result of the collaboration between RTBF and Bob Verschueren. In fact the work consists of 2546 pieces of bamboo which is the number of staff working for RTBF.

15) Expo X Expos – 15th Nov 08 to 15th Jan 09 is the period of exhibition in the Atomium by the International Exhibitions Bureau. The exhibition is on the history of the various World Fairs with focus on latest World Fair at Aichi, the next one at Saragossa and the 2010 one at Shanghai.

16) International Forum for Meteorology – The 5th International Forum of Meteorology will be organized by the Société Métérologique de France from 3rd to 9th November.

The Atomium, Brussels

17) La Poste redraws the Atomium – a special 50-year commemorative stamp will be issued by la Poste

18) For amateur antique fans – 1950s second-hand street markets will be organized along Blvd du Centenaire. These will be on 26th-27th April (10am-8pm) and 23rd-24th August 08 (10am-7:30pm). Both are weekends.

19) Lunch in 1958 – Atomium shops will carry special re-edition of crockery sets made by Royal Boch. Four different sets (teacups and saucers) will be only sale. Each one comes with a certificate.

20) By bicycle from 1958 to today – Organized by a school located in the Expo 1958 pavilion Yugoslavia, students will take the route from the school at Wevelgem and the Atomium on April 22, 2008.

21) Talks with two people connected to Expo 58 – Two individuals personally connected to the Expo 58 will share their experiences and thoughts. They are Mrs. Agnes Allard who worked for the Commissioner-General of Expo 58, Baron Moens de Fernig and the other is one of the architects of the Atomium, Jean Polak.22) Dismantling/Recreating – Organized (by Le Service programmation jeune public of the Pompidou Centre in Paris) in the Kid’s Sphere of the Atomium from 17th July to 17th August 08, this creative activity encompasses activities for children and adults. They can dismantle a set of food processors down to the smallest parts and create and invent new things with robotics. This is done with the support of James Dyson Foundation.

23) Activities for children – Kids’ (aged 2 to 10) disco on September 7th, from 2 to 6 pm along with organized activities, introduction to and handling modern technology, art etc.
Another weekend of events (drawing competitions) for children on 27th-28th Sept. 08 from 10 am – 6 pm.

The Atomium at night

24) Ballroom dancing and tea dance – Planned over the weekend of August 15th the outdoor ballroom dancing will be organized from 8 pm onwards on the square around Atomium and the tea dance from 2 pm onwards.

The hostesses of 1958 Expo

25) The hostesses of Expo 58 – Figurines representing the hostesses of expo 58 would be on sale at the Atomium.

26) Erfgoed Brussel – Excerpts of the history of Expo 58 will be placed at various places in Brussels by the Vlaamse Gemeenschapscommissie (Flemish Community Commission).

27) The Atomium 58-08 blog and live broadcast around the world – The Atomium website will have a special anniversary blog with vides, films, interviews etc. It will also have the live broadcast of the opening fireworks on April 17th at 10:15 pm.

28) Marble museum – A marble display cabinet with souvenirs of the ’58 event will be exhibited. The cabinet was used in Expo ’58. This is in partnership with the marble Museum library at Rance in the Hainaut province.

29) “Expo 58 changed my life” – Ten sound and picture portraits of people conneted to ’58 by photographer Fabrice Kada. The exhibition will be held from the 17th Aril 08 in the ticket pavilion. The inspiration comes form conversations from the BNA-BBOT audio database.

30) African Museum – A partnership with the museum so that visitors can understand Belgian Africa and the African dimension of Expo 58 along with the culture of their Congolese hosts. Admission tickets to the Atomium entitles one to a visit to the Tervuren Museum for only 1 euro.
Royal Museum for de Central Africa
Leuvensesteenweg 13
3080 Tervuren

31) Audio and Video guides are available in the Atomium.

The Atomium

32) Closing dances– On 18th October (the second last day of celebrations) three evenings at different locations will be organized by Brussels Grand Events (BGE). The public locations are selected for their 1950s architecture. They are –
a) The former southern bus station built in 1958, a first stop for tourists heading to Expo’58
b) The Brussels Congres station
c) The Brussels La Chapelle station

33) Exploration du Monde – An exploration of Belgium in 1958 through a film co-produced by Belgavox, VRT and RTBF. It will be shown in various Walloon cities and Brussels. 

34) Peking Challenge – Starting from the Atomium on 12th July 2008, the Peking Challenge involves teams taking a piece of Belgium to the Great Wall in China. Anybody with a driver’s license, good health and willingness to drive over 11,500 km can participate.

35) Editions Champaka – With Atomium as the subject 14 comic artists capture their interpretations thrrough screen-print on high quality paper which would be signed by the artist. This is being organized by Editions Champaka and the series will be issued in two seasonal releases, one in March and the other in September 2008.  Some of the artists are Joost Swarte, Jean-Claude Gotting, Ted Benoit, Frank Pe, Vittorio, Ever Meulen etc.
Also there will be a debate on 18th march at 11 am at the bookshop Brusel (Bld Anspach, 100-1000 Brussels) in the presence of the authors.
Expo 58 - 50 Anniversary logo

36) Brosella Jazz & Folk festival – On 12th & 13th July 08 a special event in commemoration of the anniversary is being organized by the Brosella Folk & Jazz festival at the Verdure theatre. This is located next to the Atomium. Included are presentation of modernized versions of ‘50’s music.

37) Euroferia Andaluza – From 2 pm till midnight on 6th, 7th and 8th June 08, the organizers of Euroferia are launching an intercultural exchange at the foot of the Atomium. It will be traditional Spanish song and dance fare.

38) City Rally: Red Cross – Organized by Red Cross at the Heyzel Plateau on April 13th 08. The objective of this event is to mobilize and hire new members, pay tribute to old members who participated in ’58 Expo etc.

39) Food development from 1958 to 2008 – BioForum Walloon and BioForum Vlaanderen have teamed up to organize an organic picnic at the foot of the Atomium on 15th June. Changes in food habits and the resurgence of faith in organic products will be the focus.

40) Belgium 58 – An exhibition organized by the Museum of Architecture and the Archives of Modern Architecture, this focuses on architectural and decorative forms of 1958 – essentially the post war years when the shift to modern designs was evident.

The Atomium, Brussels

41) From New Look to Expo 58 – The Museum of Costume will be exhibiting a array of evening dresses of famous couturiers, wedding dresses (1947-59), suits, coats, cocktail dresses, accessories etc.

Official site