The museum of the RMA

Inaugurated on september 23rd 2011, the museum of the Royal Military Academy welcomes all interested visitors, internal as well as external to the Department of Defence. Its curator is Mr Marc Beyaert.

Over eight hundred items exhibited in the museum offer a magnificent comprehensive view of the Academy since its establishment in 1834. These are subdivided into six modules, each covering a specific period in its history.

Module 1: 1834 until 1873

The rather difficult origins of the RMA go back to its location at the Porte de Namur in the centre of Brussels, with the French generals Chapelié and Nerenburger and the first commander of Belgian descent Liagre. At first, the Academy trains officers for the 'Special branches' Artillery and Pioneers, but later also for the 'Ordinary branches' Infantry and Cavalry. Lectures are delivered by famous professors such as Adolphe Quetelet, Jean-Servais Stas and Jean-Baptiste Madou; Charles De Coster (Till Eulenspiegel) is assistant professor at some point in time. Manuals and student notebooks illustrate the high level of the training provided. Paintings, engravings and even some photographs show the cadets themselves. Punishment registers (livres de punition) provide some juicy anecdotes. Former students of this period can be traced to Rome, to Algeria, Mexico, Peru and even to the American Civil War.

Module 1


Module 2: 1874 until 1908

In 1874 the School moves "temporarily" to the former abbey of La Cambre. Dozens of drawings made by gifted students show the daily life in the dormitories and refectories, during lectures and study, but also duels, punishments, sumptious dinner parties, 'accidents' in the duck pond, etc... The school contributes to preparing the royal princes Baudouin and Albert for their future responsibilities. Some scientific and educational instruments, as well as manuals, show that the school embraces new inventions such as electricity, telegraph, telephone, etc… The military of over twenty nations entrust the training of some officers to us, whilst some of our former students distinguish themselves abroad: over three hunderd of them in the Congo, others in Thaïland, two of them accompany baron de Gerlache on his hibernation in the Antarctic.

Module 2


Module 3: 1909 until 1918

In 1909 the RMA returns to Brussels and takes up residence in new buildings covering five hectares close to Cinquantenaire park, with its exhibition palaces. General Leman imposes the highest standards on the students, but als on his staff. In august 1914 the German invasion shatters this Belle Epoque dream. German troops occupy our Academy and leave it in ruins when they depart. Three hundred former students and staff lose their lives in this terrible war. A unique series of engravings by Jacques Madyol show some former students who attained the highest ranks and positions.

Module 3


Module 4: 1919 until 1945

By sending his children Leopold and Charles, future king and prince regent, to attend the Academy, King Albert I contributes to reestablishing it after the war. The Academy is presented with its own flag, coat of arms and motto. As of 1936, the Academy becomes "Royal". Its superior level of training attracts visitors from all over the world. A new uniform and new traditions are adopted, such als the King's Sword and the annuel ball. Hilarious caricatures illustrate daily life at the Academy. However, in 1940 war strikes again. Students and former students distinguish themselves during the Eighteen Days Campaign, by escaping from prisoner camps and by joining the Allied forces, but also with the Resistance.

Module 4


Module 5: 1946 until 1993

With his Director of Academic Studies, Louis Cauchie, General Beernaerts shapes the post-war Academy  by merging academic courses with a practical military training. In addition to their identification number, cadet promotions are now named after famous persons who serve as an example.  Some traditions are renstalled such as the King's Sword, the annual balls and the Pampou, the students' song. As of 1978 female students join the Academy. Some promotion diaries, student pamphlets and stickers not only illustrate technological innovations, but also the growing self-awareness of the new generations. Rapid scientific developments in the fields of nuclear physics, photogrammetry, ballistics, chemistry, computer sciences, mechanics, telecommunications, etc… lead our departments to continuously review their programmes en manuals. The RMA celebraties its 150th anniversary in 1984.

Module 5


Module 6: 1994 until today

Our outdated infrastructure is renovated in the 1990s. The royal princes Philippe, Laurent and Amadeo train at the Academy. In this post-Cold War era, delegations from all over the world visit the RMA, whereas students from some twenty nations attend our courses. In this module, Lieutenant Thierry Lotin, who died in Rwanda in 1994, as well as astronaut Frank De Winne, occupy a place of honour. The module also covers the Defence College and the Special Division. One of the walls is dedicated to the portraits of the commanders since 1834, as well as the Directors of Academic Studies since 1985.

Module 6