The Musée Hergé or Hergé Museum is a museum in Belgium dedicated to the life and work of the Belgian cartoonist Georges Remi (1907–83), who wrote under the pen name Hergé and is the creator of the series of comic albums, The Adventures of Tintin.
But the Hergé museum is much more than just Tintin. When you are here you get to travel deep within the life and work, the trials, tribulations and amazing creativity of one man, and in doing so walk through the era in which he lived.
A LIFE’S JOURNEY
It is difficult to separate Hergé’s life from his work. As a child, the strokes of his pen explored the margins of his exercise books. During his teenage years, he was rarely without his sketchbook, and his adult life was spent eternally tethered to his drawing board. His creations were part of himself, living with him and playing key roles in the events that constituted the very fabric of his existence.
Hergé left behind a prolific legacy, the result of his passion for his work, which came at a great price, physically and emotionally. Although a wide variety of artistic disciplines appealed to him, Hergé never abandoned comic strips, to which he dedicated his life.
We took a train from Berlaymont Building station, which was very close to the place where we had put up in Brussels and our destination, Louvain-la-Neuve. The museum is located in this picturesque town south of Brussels at the address “Rue Labrador 26”, which happens to be Tintin’s first home in the books. The journey took us just around fifty minutes and we soon embarked.
Louvain-la-Neuve is a planned city situated 30 km southeast of Brussels in the French-speaking part of the country. The city was created with the sole purpose of hosting the Université de Louvain which owns its entire territory.
Consequently it was decided that city should not be only inhabited by students, but rather draw a diverse community as is found in any classic city. Built on an unique urban design of the city being people rather than automobile centered, the entire city center is built on a gigantic concrete slab, with all motorized traffic travelling underground. This allows most of the ground level of the city center to be car free. Come let’s check it out.
It was the first Sunday of the month and as it turned out we were lucky. The museum is free for visitors on this day which otherwise has an entry fee of Euro 12 per person with some discounts offered for group visits. Come let’s move in.
Located on the outskirts of Louvain-la-Neuve where, along a quayside, the town overlooks a park, the museum looks like an elongated prism which seems to float in a forest of mature trees. The road winds below. From the quayside, a footbridge reaches out towards the museum as it would towards a boat. Looking at the Musée Hergé, what we see at first is a colored and dreamlike interior.
After the formalities at the reception, we take the elevator to the second floor which is top floor and begin our journey to get to know this incredible man. The first room is dedicated to Hergé’s life. The second room displays Hergé’s many interests, his early commercial illustrations, and his early comics.
We then cross a long walkway, viewing the lobby on one side and an oak forest outside on the other. The third room introduces the world of Tintin, with nine glass vitrines dedicated to the main characters of the series.
The fourth room focuses on Hergé and cinema.
Moving down one floor, we enter the largest room in the museum dedicated to ‘Professor Calculus’ “laboratory”, which focuses on science in the Tintin books.
Next to this is another large room devoted to places in the world Tintin has traveled.
Crossing a lower bridge, we get to learn about Studios Hergé.
The final room is called “Hergé Acclaimed”, showing Hergé’s connections to politicians, artists and philosophers.
We were about to go down to the main floor, the ground floor from where we had entered the museum. But before that it called for a memento. With none other than Captain Haddock.
No visit to the museum is complete without a little browsing for the perfect souvenir. The Hergé Museum has its own shop, where you can find just the right memento for yourself or a gift for somebody special. Come let’s check it out.
Complementing our visit to the Hergé Museum, ‘Le Petit Vingtième’ restaurant offered us the chance to unwind and enjoy a beer and some snacks marveling at the decor, themed around the wonderful cover pages from Le Petit Vingtième, the weekly children’s supplement which published The Adventures of Tintin from 10 June 1929.
Hergé, the man of myriad talents. The runaway success of The Adventures of Tintin may be the reason why many remember him. But he was much more than a comic strip author. With astonishing ease he was able to master various artistic techniques such as engraving, illustration, typography and graphic design which may have remained, until now, largely hidden from the wider public.