Following on from Simon Doyle’s/jock123’s review about the Jacobs exhibition Le Siècle de Jacobs: Une exposition biographique
we discovered that we were both in Brussels at the same time… I recently spent 2 weekends there and took in a few Hergé related sites so I thought I'd give some of my observations, tips on interesting places to visit, etc.
As well as the Edgar P Jacobs exhibition at the comic art museum I chanced upon another sort of
Jacobs exhibition in Brussels the other week. This was at the Museé de L’Armée et D’Histoire Militaire, a military history museum in Parc du Cinquintenaire which is joined to the excellent museum of art and history by a triumphal arch. I wouldn’t normally visit a military history museum but you can actually get up on the arch from there (and it’s free entry and well worth a look). I wasn’t quite sure what it was all about as all I saw was an easel with one of his colour plates from Jacob’s “Le Piège” made large and a yellow “m” on the stairs up to the top of the arch, not to mention the inevitable book display in the museum shop. I think Jacobs was a frequent visitor to this museum for research into the kind of details he thrived on; breastplates, scabbards, aeroplanes, etc.. The place was closing so I didn’t have time to investigate further.
Far better than the military history museum (IMO) is the adjoined Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire (the royal museum of art and history) which hosted the “Au Pérou Avec Tintin” exhibition last year. The exhibition is on tour, along with all of the exhibits at the moment, so the south American section is closed. However, even without it the wealth of the material that is there really is incredible. You can very easily imagine Hergé and Jacobs wandering around 2 museums, making copious notes and sketches. It comes as no surprise to learn that Hergé lived just 20 minutes or so walk around the corner…
I paid a visit to Hergé’s old home in Etterbeek which is in a nice residential district near a church and a small park, a little south from the Parc du Cinquintenaire. (A good tip, always buy a street-finder). A small brass plaque on the wall is all that signifies anybody special ever lived there. Next door is lovely old funeral directors which still has it’s old sign and shop front. The whole area is actually very charming, kind of the real Brussels, and I thoroughly recommend it to fans of Hergé that visit the city or anybody who is into just walking about, looking at old buildings. I saw from the street-finder that not too far from Hergé’s road was Avenue Hergé which was a disappointment – a road through a housing estate with no trees – and not the greatest tribute to one of Brussels most famous sons!
From a suggestion by Irene, our friendly forum admin, I took a stroll down the Avenue Louise in the super-rich-posh-hotel-district in the west end of Brussels, to see the abode of the creature that is Moulinsart. Judging from this well to do avenue I was expecting a grand place with flags outside but I found a very normal looking building that bore the legend “Manpower” and I can confirm that on one of the buzzers it definitely read “Moulinsart S.A.”. Suspiciously low-key, it made me think that perhaps there was a lift to an underground complex that housed the real
Best of all for me was the Musée du Tram Bruxellois
(Brussels tram museum) from where you can take an old 1930's tram along some tree-lined avenues all the way to Tervuren (which has very nice countryside). Run by the kind of old fellas that usually do steam trains in Britain. The tram also goes in the other direction to the aforementioned Parc du Cinquintenaire with it's excellent museums.