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Brussels’ museums are re-opening: rediscover their collections with their curators!

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© MRBAB, Bruxelles / photo : José Huedo

After they were closed for two months, it’s a real pleasure to once again explore the capital’s museum halls, to sample their unique atmosphere and escape to new worlds in their pieces. What better way to celebrate than diving into Brussels’ diverse and singular collections in the company of their curators? Favourites, anecdotes, gems and extraordinary pieces, they take us by the hand and lead us on a cultural journey!

Published the 27/05/2020

The Royal Military Museum

“Choosing one piece forces you to make a choice, one which is, naturally, subjective. With this in mind, I decided to stretch the logic of the exercise to its limits and to offer you an object that is particularly evocative for me. I chose this leather jacket, marked with a Chinese flag and a sentence in mandarin characters which specifies that the wearer is a friend of the Chinese people and that he must be helped by all possible means. This jacket was worn by the pilots of the 1st American Volunteer Group, or AVG. This unit of volunteers, based in China during the Second World War, fought in the Sino-Japanese war and in Burma.

It was in this unit that Buck Danny and his friends Sony Tucson and Jerry Tumbler served. I used to passionately follow their adventures in the comic strips by Jean-Michel Charlier and Victor Hubinon, adventures from which they invariably came out victorious! A lasting memory of my youth, I even bought one of the jackets worn by another of those adventurers who shaped my youth, Indiana Jones…” 

Leather jacket worn by American pilots from the 1st American Volunteer Group

Chosen by Michel Jaupart, Acting Director General of the War Heritage Institute.

“Choosing one piece forces you to make a choice, one which is, naturally, subjective. With this in mind, I decided to stretch the logic of the exercise to its limits and to offer you an object that is particularly evocative for me.” 

Michel Jaupart, War Heritage Institute.

Boghossian Foundation - Villa Empain

Fondation Boghossian-Mona Hatoum

"At a time of globalization, and even well before the subject became fashionable, contemporary artists have proved to be equally captivated by the map of the world, which many of them have sought to reinvent and transform. They have tested all of its possibilities, not only geographic, but also political, poetical and utopian.  

Geography and dislocation are also at the centre of Mona Hatoum’s polymorphic work. Through her art she evokes all the instability of the world and the precarity of borders. In "Map (Mobile)", the continents are suspended in the air, scattered in space and at risk of clashing into one another. "

Mona Hatoum, "Map (Mobile)", 2019

Chosen by Alfred Pacquement, curator of "Mappa mundi ".

Choco-Story Brussels

Chocostory-mortier-cabosse

“Among its protean collections, the most gourmet of Brussels museums has chosen an exclusive object. It is apod-shaped mortar, which contains the oldest trace of cocoa ever discovered. Incredibly, it contains theobromine, which is an indicator of the presence of cocoa. This tool, discovered recently in Southern Ecuador, dates back to 3500 BC. It is proof that cocoa was already consumed as a drink by the Shuar, one of the Amerindian peoples! Later, around the year 1000, the Mayans began to cultivate the cocoa tree.”

Pod-shaped mortar

Chosen by Peggy Van Lierde, Director of Choco-Story Brussels.

The Belgian Comic Strip Center

Centre Belge de la Bande Dessinée-Buste de tintin

“It all began with a fortuitous encounter. In 1947, young Belgian sculptor Nat Neujean, based in Brussels, and iconic comic strip creator Hergé met for the first time. Neujean, known for his bronze sculptures, was working on a bust of the then French minister for Culture, André Malraux, to whom he wanted to give several Tintin albums, signed by Hergé himself. After their meeting, on top of a bust of Hergé and a life-size bronze statue of Tintin and Snowy, the sculptor made a stone bust of Tintin.

Videos show the extent to which Hergé was touched and perplexed to see his famous character in three dimensions for the first time. An emotional moment that was all the stronger due to the striking resemblance between the journalist and his spiritual father. Hergé also liked to say: "Tintin is me, if I want to be the perfect hero...". The bust had pride of place on the desk of the master of the Ligne Claire until he passed away. In 1989, Guy Dessicy, colourist and friend of Hergé, donated the piece to the Belgian Comic Strip Center on behalf of Hergé’s widow. It was her way of showing how important it was to her that the centre was opened. Since then, the statue has pride of place by the monumental marble staircase that is the entrance to the museum. It’s almost as if Hergé himself was watching over this temple of the ninth art…”

 

Tintin bust by Nat Neujean

Chosen by Tine Anthoni, Head of Communications at the Belgian Comic Strip Center.

"Videos show the extent to which Hergé was touched and perplexed to see his famous character in three dimensions for the first time (...) Indeed, the bust had pride of place on the desk of the master of the Ligne Claire until he passed away."

Tine Anthoni, The Belgian Comic Strip Center

AfricaMuseum

Africa-Museum-sculpture

“When a chief (recognisable here by his headdress) dies, he can no longer look after his loved ones, protect them, advise them, unless a statue is made for his spirit to inhabit straight after his death. This is one of those statues, which, evidently, contains the spirit of a gentle and caring man. I, for one, would ask him for advice!”

Statue from Bas-Congo (Matadi), soapstone sculpture

Chosen by Dirk van Roy, guide at the AfricaMuseum.

Train World

Train World-Paul Delvaux

“In 1963, to mark the complete electrification of the Paris - Brussels – Amsterdam line, the SNCB/NMBS and the SNCF brought into service a new generation of international train carriages under the Trans Europ Express (TEE) label. To showcase Belgian artistic talent, the SNCB/NMBS commissioned four paintings from ten Belgian painters. These pieces were to decorate the Belgian National Railway company’s first class TEE carriages. 

Among the chosen artists, Paul Delvaux, an emblematic painter of stations and trains. His four original pieces acted as two pairs in conversation. Since September 2019, these four artworks have been displayed in Train World.”

Gare de jour I&II, "Gare la nuit I&II" by Paul Delvaux

Chosen by Pieter Jonckers, Director of Train World.