Napoleon - Beyond the Myth

Visitors will discover several hundred original and often invaluable items in impressive displays. These exceptional works, from personal collections (including Bruno Ledoux’s) as well as those of renowned Belgian and foreign institutions, all pay witness to the incredible life led by Napoleon Bonaparte. They bear out the international status of this exhibition.

Napoleon, beyond the myth” benefits from the work of historians directed by Professor Philippe Raxhon (from the University of Liège) and the patronage of the Fondation Napoléon – whose director Thierry Lentz has authored the preface to the official catalogue. The exhibition design is intended to be objective and critical. It takes care to avoid the trap of presenting an idealised image and is enhanced by serious historical studies.

Beyond a conventional chronological development, the exhibition in Liège places the emphasis on ten themes to gain a better grasp of the man, but also his life and work. Three major original display sets, remarkable immersive elements, exceptional items, texts, films or also an audio-guide in four languages all come together to provide a visit that is as fascinating as it is enlightening. In a fun little touch, as with the exhibition about Tutankhamen, an exclusive Escape Game has been created to approach the exhibition from a different angle.

A unique experience

The museum venue at the Liège-Guillemins railway station is playing host to Europa Expo’s new major event, “Napoleon – beyond the myth”! Over a floor-space of almost 3,000 m², this immersive cultural adventure examines the many aspects of Napoléon Bonaparte, a major figure in history who, two centuries after his death, continues to influence our daily life. From the man to the legend, this exhibition takes a meticulous look at the main steps that shaped this extraordinary personality.

Napoleon Bonaparte, 1st Emperor of the French, as you have never seen him!

With the patronage of the Fondation Napoleon

No less than 300 original works

Coming from renowned Belgian (ex: KBR) and foreign institutions, but also from private collectors (ex: Bruno Ledoux), the many pieces on display bear witness to the incredible life of Napoleon Bonaparte.

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    The exhibition entrance introduces the life choices made by Napoleon and the myth that he became. A flash-back composition investigates his exile on Saint Helena, his final years, his death and the return of his ashes on the ship La Belle Poule in 1840.


    This theme focuses on the context in which Napoleon came to power. The end of the Ancien Régime, the Revolution, the fall of the Monarchy, the Republic and also the Directorate are the major historical phases covered.


    Visitors can discover both the family tree of the future Emperor and the chronology of the main events in his short life (his first years in Corsica, his military training in Brienne and then in Paris, etc.). The first of three grand immersive settings, spread over 200 m², is a battlefield with a bivouac, highlighting this essential aspect of the historical figure (complete with encampment, command post and campaign atmosphere).


    Depending on the missions, the soldier’s equipment varied and was adapted to the vagaries of the terrains, distances and routes to be covered, since Napoleon’s army was renowned for its speed of movement.


    During his military career, Napoleon fought 57 battles (42 victories, 11 defeats and 4 with an uncertain outcome). Special emphasis is put on ten of them: the Pyramids, Trafalgar, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland, Wagram, Berezina, Leipzig and Waterloo.


    The coronation of Emperor Napoleon, in the presence of Pope Pious VII, marked the zenith of his ascension.



    This chapter evokes the man in private and the artistic movement that he created, the Empire style, which exceeded the strict bounds of interior decoration and affected architecture, monuments, arts and fashion. A second major display inspired by a ballroom at the Tuileries Palace illustrates the splendour of the court, etiquette, ablutions and food. Napoleon possessed up to 47 palaces spread throughout the territories he ruled, employing 3,500 people.


    Napoleon wanted to leave a lasting trace, to which writing his memoirs (“The Memorial”) contributed. The Emperor’s study (the third major immersive exhibition setting) explores the civil aspect of his reign, with special emphasis on the code of the same name which changed the face of France and the countries on which he imposed or attempted to impose it. Napoleon wanted a modern State, with a penal code, the Bank of France, prefectures, universities, the land registry, the concordat… A kind of public welfare dictatorship which transformed the Consulate into the Empire. The main figures of his close entourage and the economic situation are also addressed. 

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