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Antwerp Becomes Heritage Hub

July 6, 2011 By: Jena Tesse Fox


Your history-buff clients will definitely want to check this out: The Red Star Line Museum, working with the city of Antwerp, recently launched a campaign to identify a little girl in a historic photograph taken in the city. The campaign is the first kickoff for the spring 2013 opening of the Museum. 

The multi-tiered social media campaign features a "Do You Know This Girl?" Blog and personal Facebook page, where fans can join in on the search, get clues, learn more about the Red Star Line Museum and enter a contest to win a trip for two to Belgium.  

“Antwerp might be a small city, but with a world port, we’ve always been international,” Philip Heylen, Antwerp’s Vice-Mayor, told Travel Agent recently. “Red Star Line plays a part in that.” More than 2.5 million people sailed on the Red Star Line out of Antwerp (among them, Albert Einstein, Irving Berlin and Golda Meir), and Heylen believes that the city and the future museum are part of U.S. history. “The Red Star Line is symbol of what the American dream is all about,” he says. “When people come to Antwerp, they can visit where their ancestors saw Europe for the last time.” 

In April 2005, the city of Antwerp purchased the buildings from the Port Authorities and enlisted New York City-based Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP (the firm also responsible for the renovation of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum) and the Antwerp-based architecture firm Arcade to collaborate on an extensive development and redesign project. The $26 million transformation of the complex will be completed in spring 2013 as the Red Star Line Museum, a themed experience museum about emigration through Antwerp. The museum is expected to house original objects from public and private collections and a large number of multimedia installations, and can help visitors research and learn about migration and international mobility in the past and the present.

“Development in Antwerp has been very strong in the last five years,” Geri Jacobs, head of Flanders Tourism in New York, told Travel Agent. “For a U.S. audience, this has a lot of appeal. Genealogy is very appealing to this generation. It could be a big stimulus.

“Most Americans think of Brussels and Bruges when they think of Belgium and Flanders,” she continues. “This puts Antwerp on the map as the international port it is—the second largest in Europe—and also as a capital of fashion and design. It appeals to a wide range.”

Fashion is also connected in a more direct way: Iconic designer Diane von Furstenburg is the project’s godmother. “She’s a great woman, a true leader, and she has ideas on how to bring people together” Heylen says. “To have somebody like her as a godmother, we couldn’t ask for more. She supported us and helped it go forward. We needed a person like that. She stands for what Red Star Line stands for: She made the American dream come true.

For more information on the "Do You Know This Girl?" campaign, Red Star Line Museum or Antwerp, Belgium, visit


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About the Author

Jena Tesse Fox
Jena Tesse Fox covers Europe, Africa, Australia/South Pacific and business travel for the Questex Travel Group's publications. The daughter of history teachers, she can spend...

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By Jena Tesse Fox | July 6, 2011
The Red Star Line Museum, working with the city of Antwerp, recently launched a campaign to identify a little girl in a historic photograph taken in the city.
Filed under : Belgium