Georges Prosper Remi (22 May 1907 - 3 March 1983), better known by the pen name Hergé, was a Belgian comics writer and artist.His best known and most substantial work is The Adventures of Tintin, which he wrote and illustrated from 1929 until his death in 1983, which left the twenty-fourth Tintin adventure Tintin and Alph-Art unfinished. His work remains a strong influence on comics, particularly in Europe. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2003.
Over the years, Hergé’s artistic output has become established as a work of distinction. The idea of a museum has been germinating from as far back as 1979, while he was still alive. The goal was always to make Hergé’s myriad creations known to the wider public. To do justice to such an important project, a lot of time and careful reflection was necessary. The main task was to strike the right balance between the nuances of a complex reality and the legendary status that was starting to develop around the man and his creation.
In 1986, three years after the artist passed away, the idea took shape in the form of the Hergé Foundation. From the start of the new millennium, this organisation (now renamed Studios Hergé) has worked tirelessly to identify and catalogue the most suitable elements for exhibition in a museum consecrated to Hergé. On 10 January 2001, Tintin’s ‘birthday’, the important announcement was made: the Hergé Museum was to be built in Louvain-la-Neuve, a recently created university town, less than 30 kilometres from Brussels.
Eight years later and the dream is materialising. The Hergé Museum opens its doors at the start of June 2009, two years after the first stone was laid on 22 May 2007, the artist’s birthday. Expectations are as high as the project is ambitious. A well-known architect was chosen to bring the industrious plans to fruition: the Frenchman Christian de Portzamparc. In recognition of his achievements, in 1994 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious accolade in international architecture.
Christian de Portzamparc has used all his skills in building design to integrate the principals of Hergé’s work, superbly highlighting the unique features of the latter’s art, which led to his becoming the founder and master of the clear line technique.
project description by
Christian de Portzamparc for Yatzer
“It was at the close of the exhibition, organized by the Pompidou Centre about me in 1996, that I met Fanny and Nick Rodwell. They had seen the exhibition, liked it, and wanted to talk to me about their project for the Hergé Museum.
I remember them in the same way as I might remember old poems, far away in the recesses of my memory. It would take another seven years before the first sketches and the first model of the museum appeared in 2003. Seven years during which there was time for relations between Fanny and Nick Rodwell and myself to grow, to become stronger and more refined with mutual confidence and complicity. Time for us to make sure that we were speaking the same language. This sense of collaboration was, throughout the project, shared by Joost Swarte, who was in charge of the scenography, and Walter de Toffol,our building contractor.
| Louvain-la-Neuve is built on a straight-edged concrete slab with a car park underneath. It immediately seemed like a good idea to disengage the museum from the town, better to move it away a little towards the woods. In this way, bathed in the light streaming through the large bays, the visitor is confronted with “four landscape objects”, which correspond to the general layout and Joost Swarte’s scenography.
Each of these objects has its own personality; each is a kind of character. Each has a specific sculptural form, colour and unique design. Each displays an aspect, disproportionately enlarged, derived from Hergé’s drawing style. One traces Tintin in America, another King Ottokar’s Sceptre… To these four “objects”, we can add a fifth: the lift shaft, vertical and coloured in white and blue, which I had first imagined as red and white, but which Fanny found too literal.
What is clear to me, now that the museum exists, is that there were infinite sources of inspiration for the project. There was the programme of exhibitions, of course, and the constant discussions with Fanny and Nick Rodwell, as well as the work of Hergé in all its dimensions of course: its identity, its individuality, its unique character.
I said to myself, from this point on, that the museum was obviously a tribute to Hergé, but also as much a game played with Hergé, or a letter to Hergé.”
Beginning of building work : July 2007
Opening day : 2nd June 2009
Program: Cultural facilities accommodating a museum dedicated to Hergé, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions areas, a video projection room, a cafeteria, shops, studios, storehouses and administrative premises.
Floor space : 3 600 m2
Proprietor: « La Croix de l’Aigle » S.A. : Fanny et Nick Rodwell, Studios Hergé..
Project manager : Robert Vangénéberg.
Project Management : Walter De Toffol – INCA ( Ingénieurs Conseils Associés)
Architect : Christian de Portzamparc
Atelier Christian de Portzamparc TEAM: Céline Barda, Bruno Durbecq, Odile Pornin, Yannick Bouchet, Konrad Kuznicki
Landscape designer: Jacques Wirtz
Scriptwriters : Joost Swarte, Thierry Groensteen and Philippe Goddin
Scenographers : Joost Swarte and Winston Spriet
Director : Laurent de Froberville