Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Red Star Line Museum

A couple of weeks ago I received the following information from Charlotte Op de Beeck who works for the Red Star Line Museum in Antwerp, Belgium.

In 2006 the South Street Seaport Museum in New York held a 6 months exhibit Antwerp-America:
The Red Star Line and
the Paintings of Eugeen Van Mieghem, 1870-1935
(see Belgian Laces #107 and also the Van Mieghem Museum)
It is about that time that word reached us of the plan to turn an old warehouse into an immigration museum in Antwerp and we had hoped to do a follow up but never really had the chance. Maybe this message will provide a renewed opportunity to learn about the museum but also about its website. Here is the message from Mrs. Charlotte Op de Beeck:

"Belgian Red Star Line Museum looking for emigrant photographs, memorabilia and stories (1873-1934, Antwerp to New York) Between 1873 and 1934 the legendary shipping company Red Star Line transported more than two million passengers to America. Poor European emigrants in search of the American Dream, but also affluent passengers traveling for business or pleasure left for New York. They departed from the city of Antwerp (Belgium), where the port warehouses of the Red Star Line were situated. To this day those Red Star Line warehouses are preserved. For many passengers they represented the last stop on the European mainland. It was there that, just before their departure, the emigrants traveling in third class underwent a medical examination and were disinfected, while clerks scrutinized their documents. The Red Star Line buildings are protected monuments. They are part of the communal memory of innumerable new Americans. They had long been standing empty and were pleading for a new purpose. In the spring of 2012 the new Red Star Line Museum/People on the Move will open its doors at this historic location. It will be a place of remembrance, experience, debate and research into international mobility, both past and present. The story of Red Star Line and its passengers will be brought to life once more. Do you have any old Red Star Line items such as postcards, luggage, diaries or photos? Are there travel stories or objects preserved in the family archive? Maybe you too can contribute to the new museum collection. Send an e-mail to or call (+32)3 206 03 50. Perhaps your family item will find its way into the future museum... All information welcome! More information at"

Charlotte Op de Beeck | vrijwilliger
Stad Antwerpen | Red Star Line Museum
Falconrui 53 | 2000 Antwerpen
tel + 32 3 206 03 50 | fax +32 3 206 03 60 |

The company's main ports of call in the United States were New York and Philadelphia, and in Belgium, Antwerp. The Wikipedia article on the Red Star Line offers some beautiful pictures as well as a short history of the line.

The Red Star Line Museum website is available in Dutch, French and English and offers a section solely on the Belgian emigrants, although no searchable database of passengers.

A short movie by Mario de Munck, Red Star Line - People on the Move, will no doubt interest the researcher, by providing the unique texture only a video can give.