Luxembourg was founded in 963 AD, a fortress among the valleys, in current Luxembourg City. Today, while the capital is starkly different from its medieval predecessor, the mysteries of those early casemates have taken new forms. Writer John Lee explains more: 

Edward Steichen

Today, all that remains of Luxembourg’s once impenetrable medieval fortress is a decaying foundation and series of underground tunnels pulsing with the energy of the city’s contemporary art scene.

The AM Tunnel is a contemporary art gallery stationed in the repurposed casemates of the Luxembourg fortress. Located in the Gare Quartier section of central Luxembourg City, the gallery is only a few minutes’ walk from the train station. In this underground gallery any visitor or art enthusiast can take in the vibrant work of Luxembourg’s prominent modern artists.

As I entered the tunnel my senses were purged of the boisterous city atmosphere. The fortress walls that once defended the city from invaders now shield visitors from the noise and distractions of the city center. Knowing little about art, I was unsure of what to expect, but was relieved to find that the AM Tunnel is entirely without ego. Based mainly on pant-tightness and glasses-frame-thickness, there seemed a healthy mix of devoted art lovers and casual guests visiting solely out of curiosity.

Proceeding slowly through the tunnel and stopping to take in each piece at the most infantile level, I finally came to a stop at the AM Tunnel’s main attraction, the permanent collection of Luxembourger Edward Steichen, credited with taking the first modern fashion photographs ever published.

Edward Steichen, Vogue Magazine

At Steichen’s collection, a middle-aged man stood next to me who, judging by his understanding gaze and beard stroking, knew much more about art than myself. After a few seconds of contemplation he turned to me and presumably asked me something about the photograph in French. I have never been more relieved to tell someone that I only speak English.

While the individual paintings and photographs are each impressive, the entire tunnel is a masterpiece. All the art feels connected as you walk through the tunnel and although only one piece is in focus at a time a feeling similar to driving through a beautiful country side resonates while walking through the tunnel. It is enjoyable for even those uneducated in art (your correspondent being a prime example) but also one of the most unique places I have been in Luxembourg.

When I finally emerged from the tunnel the rambunctious city took me by surprise. The AM Tunnel feels entirely different than the rest of the city and it was shocking to remember where I was. Looking back at the fortress, it was difficult to believe a contemporary art gallery weaves through the foundation, even after having been there only minutes ago.

All photos are by legendary Luxembourg photographer Edward Steichen, frequently exhibited at the AM Tunnel. 

This article is part of our collaboration with the Miami University John E. Dolibois Center, a study abroad program for American students based in Luxembourg.