The Hergé Museum? The Temple of the Sun!

Dossier ~ Friday 12th June 2009
The Hergé Museum]

From the first moment that Christian de Portzamparc, architect of the Hergé Museum, presented his plans, he insisted on the importance of light. Ever since the opening day on 2 June 2009, visitors have confirmed this : the Hergé Museum really is the Temple of the Sun !

The first person to visit is Swiss

Hergé loved the mountains, going on long hiking expeditions, the grape harvest in the Valais, and the cities of Geneva, Lausanne and Nyon. We can really see this side of him in The Calculus Affair. Is this what convinced Anne Henchoz to take part in a competition organised by the radio station Bel-RTL (the RTL group’s Belgian broadcaster) ? This Swiss citizen had arrived in Brussels along with her husband Alain-Denis, who works as an advisor to the Swiss ambassador. " When I learned that there was a competition to win the first ticket to the Hergé Museum, I wanted to enter it. My husband and I are big fans of Hergé, Tintin and Snowy, of course. I could hardly contain my delight when I found out I’d won ! "

Souvenirs from Louvain-la-Neuve

The Swiss couple, winners of the first ever ticket to the Hergé Museum, were welcomed by Fanny Rodwell, the prime mover behind the museum. So what impressed our Swiss friends most ? " The very rich collection of original source material on display. Photos, texts, models, objects, films, audio files : it was truly spellbinding ! You don’t need to be a big fan of Tintin or Hergé to enjoy your visit. The Museum takes the visitor on a journey through the twentieth century. It’s a unique source of information for children, and a treasure trove of memories for parents and grandparents. "

Tintinologists from Luxembourg

You may not believe in coincidences, yet consider the following : in Letzeburgesch (the language of Luxembourg), the Thom(p)sons are called Biver and Biwer, and the first visitor from Luxembourg was also called Biver ! He was recently on holiday with his family in Belgium : " I wouldn’t have missed the opening of the Hergé Museum for anything in the world. We decided to prolong our holidays and make a trip to Louvain-la-Neuve. " Mr Biver was nine years old when he discovered Tintin for the first time : " It was a puzzle showing a scene from Prisoners of the Sun. The first album I read was Red Rackham’s Treasure. There are five books in Letzeburgesch. According to a website devoted to art education (www.kannerfirkanner.lu – the name means " children for children "), Tintin really is the friend of children everywhere. "

A very significant Grand Duchy

It shouldn’t be forgotten that the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg played an important role in the construction of the Hergé Museum. The client’s representative to the building contractor, Walter de Toffol, is a Luxemburger (and proud of it !). Regarding the museum, he said, " I wanted to do the project using professionals with specific skills. To achieve our quality objectives, it was important to be surrounded by skilled craftspeople, people who love their job. " Bernard Reynolds was another Luxemburger who was involved. He supervised the construction of the museum, from the moment the first stone was laid (22 May 2007) right up to the point that the keys were handed over to Fanny Rodwell : " I never imagined that I would one day be involved in the construction of Tintin’s home ! " Luxembourg-based companies were among those who supported the creation of the most original and artistic building on Belgian soil since the Atomium, built back in 1958.

She only ever read one comic strip series…

Interviewed on 2 June, Dominique is a self-proclaimed devoted fan of Tintin. " People asked me what I wanted as a fiftieth birthday present, and without hesitating, I knew it was to be at the opening of the Hergé Museum ! " Dominique travelled from Toulon to Louvain-la-Neuve : " It’s my first time in Belgium. My passion for Hergé – Tintin is the only comic book I’ve ever read – comes from my father, who collected the books. For my birthday party, friends turned up disguised as characters from the stories. My favourite story is Tintin in Tibet. It’s the underlying homage to friendship that moves me. This is despite the fact that Cuthbert Calculus doesn’t have a part in it, even though he’s my favourite character. "

Generations reconciled

There seems to be such a wide gap between young and old today – a conflict between generations. Yet if the visiting public welcomed to the Hergé Museum are anything to go by, reconciliation is possible. Grandparents, parents and children came together to enjoy the tour, and here is an example of some of the things said by three generations of one family : Grandson : " Check it out, it’s Snowy being silly ! " Father : " I bought this copy of Tintin magazine when I was at primary school. " Grandfather : " Le Petit Vingtième… I was a scout at the time it was published. Look at these photos : there’s Hergé with Queen Astrid. And that’s my father, who took me to the Gare du Nord to welcome Tintin and Snowy on their return from the Congo… it’s amazing how much time has gone by ! " In the end, visitors took an average of two hours to view the galleries. Tintin’s still as popular as ever !

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