The Red Star Line Museum: Discovering History and Heritage

red star line museum in antwerp

The Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp is dedicated to a legendary ocean liner company that operated between 1873 and 1934. They transported millions of European migrants in search of a better life across the Atlantic. They headed to either the United States or Canada, not knowing what lay ahead.

In this blog post, I will show you the main highlights of the Red Star Line Museum, along with all the essential details, and practical information for planning your visit.

General Information

The following general information about the Red Star Line Museum should provide you with just about everything you need for planning your visit:

AddressMontevideostraat 3, 2000 Antwerpen (Google Maps)
Opening TimesTuesday – Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Ticket PricesAdults: €10
18 and 25 yrs: €6
Under 18: Free
More information for discounts & groups here
Public TransportTram 7 to Antwerpen MAS
Red Star Line Museum details

The History of the Red Star Line

The Red Star Line was founded in 1871 as a joint venture between the International Navigation Company of Philadelphia and the Société Anonyme de Navigation Belgo-Américaine of Antwerp. They operated a liner across the Atlantic carrying over two million emirates of mostly Easter and Central European descent.

These migrants, like those today, were in search of a better life in the so-called “New World” and had heard that it offered them a lot of opportunities. The Red Star Line was their way to get there. You would think that it was only the desperate that crossed with this liner, however many prominent figures were on board throughout its life. They included the likes of Albert Einstein and Irving Berlin., just to name a few.

Highlights of the Red Star Line Museum

The Red Star Line Museum can be found near the port of Antwerp in the original Red Star Line buildings. They have been meticulously restored and repurposed and offer not only a great location for the museum but an amazing experience as well. The historic warehouses and departure halls have been renovated to help create an immersive museum experience that showcases the personal stories of passengers of the Red Star Line as well as the maritime history of Antwerp.

The Migration Stories

The personal stories of those who traveled on the Red Star Line ships are at the heart of what this museum is all about. Their unique tales are told through a fun mixture of interactive exhibits, personal testimonials, and multimedia presentations. When you are inside the museum you will discover not only their lives and motivations but also the fears and challenges that such a migrant faced in that era. Especially since they had to undertake such a long crossing of the Atlantic by ship (you go by plane in a few hours!)

The Belgenland II Ship

There is also a cross-section model of the ship to help give you a feeling of how big it was, where things were and how people lived. There were a lot of rumors at the time of horrible conditions and deaths. And as we all know the media tend to exaggerate.

Things were not as bad as reported and this model goes a long way to showing that people were not treated like animals at all.

Ellis Island Connection

For those of you, like me, who have been to New York, you may remember Ellis Island. After all, it is right near the Statue of Liberty!

Ellis Island was the processing center for migrants to the USA in those days, and a similar thing to what you see in the port of Antwerp existed there too. After all, this is a two-sided story, and experiencing and understanding life when they arrived in the USA is a big part of it all.

So, in this section you can learn about the medical examinations, legal procedures, and personal interviews the migrants had to undergo before being allowed to enter the United States. It might be easier to get to the USA today, but I don’t think getting a visa is any easier!

Getting There

The Red Star Line Museum is located near the port in Antwerp in the Eilandje district. It is possible to walk, but it is far easier if you catch Tram 7 to the Antwerpen MAS stop which is a short walk from the museum.

I would not recommend coming to Antwerp by car these days. There are lots of restrictions (no diesel cars for example) and parking is difficult. It is far better to catch the train into the center of the city and the tram from there!

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