Red Star Line Museum: Exploring Ancestry in Antwerp

Vintage Red Star Line advertisement
Vintage Red Star Line advertisement – image courtesy of Visit Flanders

We all wonder where we come from at some point. Interestingly, It turns out a lot of us North Americans came “from” Antwerp, regardless of our country of  birth. From 1873 to 1934, two million passengers boarded Red Star Line steamers and crossed the ocean from Antwerp, leaving the old world for the new world. These stories, and that of the shipping company that transported them, isn’t just the stuff that dreams are made of, but are museums of time.

About the Red Star Line Museum

The newly opened Red Star Line Museum lets you walk in the footsteps of emigrants and ancestors. First, you become acquainted with passengers and accompany them on their trip from their native village to Antwerp. Feel the excitement and uncertainty they faced boarding these giant ocean steamers. Personal stories abound, bringing the ocean journey to life. Can you imagine what it was like to say goodbye to extended family on one side of the ocean, followed by goodbyes to your fellow travelers on the other?

Red Star Line Museum Exterior
Red Star Line Museum, Antwerp – image courtesy of Visit Flanders

This is a museum unlike most others, because your family’s story is welcome to become part of its story as you reconstruct your family’s migration history. There’s a digital warehouse of immigrant accountings, as well as a lot of donated personal relics that will be cherished for posterity. Besides, how often do you get to see where the American dream actually started?

How to get to the Red Star Line Museum by train:

The Thalys “red” train, is the high-speed wonder offering trips from Brussels to Antwerp in just under 40 minutes for less than $20. And it’s just as easy to book your train from Paris to Antwerp, with travel times under 2 hours and prices from $116.

Once in Antwerp the Red Star Line Museum is a short trip via public transportation or bike.


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