Set up in 1977 to celebrate the long tradition of making textiles and lace in Flanders, this collection is surprisingly engaging. As well as ecclesiastical vestments and fine samples of delicate handmade lace from Bruges and Mechelen, you’ll find cabinets full of panama hats (a bit of an obsession in Brussels; scores of stores sell them), Barbie dolls with their many costume changes, and plenty of carefully conserved and elaborately embroidered gowns from the 18th and 19th centuries. Most fun are the cheery displays of 1960s fashion, including tiny miniskirts and bright-red raincoats. But the heart of the collection deals with the 17th century (and earlier) lacemaking industry of Brussels which once employed more than 15,000 practitioners of the highly-demanding, incredibly-laborious art. You’ll not only see exhibits of the most elaborate and accomplished lace, the kind requiring hundreds of hours of patient hand weaving, but also paintings of various noble figures wearing lace of great intricacy that peeks from underneath collars and cuffs. And suddenly you’ll remember all those portraits you’ve seen of European counts and dukes, duchesses and princes, adorned with yards and yards of lace, all produced painstakingly, over months of time, and for an absurd pittance, by whole armies of exploited female Belgian lacemakers.