Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Musee Herge!

To me, it looks like a cathedral!
The highlight of my summer was the pilgrimage to the Musee Herge in Louvain-La-Neuve, a little bit outside Brussels. Georges Remi (Herge) was the creator/illustrator of the Adventures of Tintin books and I've been an admirer of Herge's "clear line" artwork and of Tintin my whole life and was so excited to learn of the opening last year of a museum dedicated to Herge's life and Tintin. He's one of the major influences in my artwork so a trip to cartoon-friendly Belgium and a visit to the new museum was a lifelong dream come true! The quaint 40 minute train ride from Brussels-Midi station ran through a couple of the towns and countryside areas I recognized as places Herge had lived or worked. Louvain-La-Neuve is a small, but nice university town with the shopping and eateries you'd expect. Signage to the Musee Herge is easy enough to follow although we found a very proud and helpful university worker who was more than happy to lead us to the musee right across from her Philosophy department. It appears ambitious university housing is going up around the area and there was a bit of construction leading up to the musee, but we were focused and arrived right at opening.

Inexpensive entry fee. Understandably no photography inside the exhibit rooms. Pleasant and helpful museum workers (erm, they speak English). I had pretty high expectations for the musee after reading so much about it and I have to admit, it was even better than I hoped for. Best museum ever. A near religious experience for me, to be honest! State of the art headsets and hand-held apparatus that not only informatively guides you through the musee, but also shows images and plays video clips throughout. Elevator takes you up to the top floor and you work your way down through room after room of breathtaking original artwork and displays. The artwork is changed out routinely for preservation purposes (making a return trip probable). You move chronologically along through Herge's career and through carefully designed rooms. I can't describe how pleased I was.
After a couple hours of slowly moving through the rooms and enjoying every little detail, we decided to eat in the Musee's restaurant, Le Petit Vingtieme. We sat outside at a nice table under a huge umbrella and tried to process what we had already seen. The food was great although the wait for it was longer than expected. The idea was to spend as much time "in" the musee and not lounging in the restaurant sipping ice cold Stellas. I would suggest bringing a snack or outside lunch from town. This fresh pasta and pesto was delicious, though!! (Note the Musee's logo on the plates)!
We were delighted to find that there was an awesome temporary exhibit on the ground floor of the work of Joost Swarte! One of my favorite illustrators! I met Joost at one of the SPX lectures a couple years ago and was thrilled he was part of the planning and design of this museum. Unfortunately, we were pretty worn out from the previous 6 hours of mouth-dropping Herge artwork to do Mr. Swarte's art justice, but there were many wonderful things to see and a fantastic exhibit catalogue in the gift shop. Needless to say, the gift shop is another highlight and full of everything Tintin you can imagine! Plan on spending an hour in there too (and bringing home an extra suitcase)!
One of the many thoughtful and nice touches around the Musee is that the routes around the grounds are named after Herge characters or things from the books. This was one of Tintin's addresses. Superb!

1 comment:

jeanie9 said...

Glad you had such a wonderful time David. We too visited the Musee Herge and it is just as good as you say. We found the food slow being served and the idea of a sandwich is a good one.