The Red Star Line or Société Anonyme de Navigation Belge-Américaine (SANBA) was a Belgian shipping company that ran a regular service between Antwerp and New York and sometimes between Antwerp and Philadelphia.
Op 28 September 2013 the Red Star Line Museum opened in the historic pavilions which have been recognised as a listed building since 2001. For four million Europeans this was where the journey started to the ‘promised land’, namely the United States and Canada. The museum focuses on the stories of former passengers of the Red Star Line. Those stories supplemented by witness accounts by modern migrants in order to present a picture of migration over time.
The basis of the Red Star Line Museum consists of stories of people who travelled to America with the shipping company. The focus is on six witnesses, including Albert Einstein and Irving Berlin. The main exhibition takes visitors along the various phases of the journey from the travel agents in Warsaw to the new life in the United States. The aim is to give an impression of the tough journey European migrants had to complete in order to seek a better future.
The last part of the exhibition links the past with the present in order to show that migration is universal and timeless. With a view to providing a better impression of all the stories collected by the Red Star Line Museum, the collection contains various personal items such as photos and documents, as well as objects donated to the museum by the descendants of the passengers.
The Red Star Line Museum is a museum packed with memories, at an authentic location, where the focus is on the visitors’ experience. The forgotten history is brought to life from the perspective of the people who experienced it.
Photography: Michel Wuyts