One of Brussel’s most iconic landmarks is Manneken Pis, a bronze fountain sculpture of a peeing boy. While the statue itself is naked, you will often find it dressed in some sort of outfit when visiting, often marking a special occasion or the visit of foreign dignitaries.
The statue’s wardrobe now contains around 1,000 outfits, with about 20 new costumes donated to the statue each year. This small museum near the fountain features a selection of this vast and varied wardrobe in a rotating display.
Dressing the statue is a tradition that dates back to the mid-18th century. The first costume was given to the boy in 1747 by the French King Louis XV, after his soldiers stole the statue during a visit to the city. Even then Manneken Pis was known as a local landmark and the city folk were shocked. The king personally made sure that the statue returned and gave it a military officer outfit. Along with the outfit he also declared Manneken Pis a knight of the Royal and Military Order of Saint-Louis, an honorary order typically reserved for the most distinguished officers. The outfit gifted by Louis XV is the oldest costume in the Garderobe’s collection.
And like with many things back then, giving outfits to Manneken Pis became popular because a king did it. Over the years this started to happen more and more, with the collection slowly growing. The costumes are maintained by a special committee, but a section of the collection is on display in the Garderobe museum. These range from old, new, themed, and cultural. Maybe there’s a costume on display from your country.
Know Before You Go
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