When I was in Brussels for the first time (for less than a day), I realized that there was a place I needed to visit to satisfy my geekiness, but it had already already too late to do it then. When it had occurred that I would have the opportunity to visit Brussels again, I decided that it was time to check what else it had to offer. And I found out that there are more interesting places to see in this city.
Museum of Original Figurines – MOOF museum
MOOF (Museum of Original Figurines) was the place I missed during my first trip. It is located just near the main train station of Brussels and is quite huge. As the name suggests, it is full of figures of all sizes. Some are tiny and some are huge. It is kind of a heaven for a comics’ fan. I am not a huge comic fan myself and I did not know all of the titles presented there (or I knew they existed, but haven’t read them), but I had a great time anyway.
Some very well-known comic and animation titles were represented. There were separate exhibitions for Smurfs and Asterix. Some other well-known titles were also featured, including Lucky Luke, Tintin, Thorgal and many, many more. I really liked some of the items presented – especially Asterix chess set and some really nice busts.
There was one thing that was slightly disappointing. The descriptions. They were available in three languages, including English, which was good. Unfortunately, either the font used or the print quality coupled with the lighting made them a little bit difficult to read. It was not a big problem, but it would be worth to improve it.
Apart from figures, the museum has also a small section with different gaming consoles with comic-derived games. I had the chance to play SNES Asterix and Obelix game. Unfortunately, not all of the consoles worked. Still it was a nice stop during the trip.
All in all, I find MOOF really interesting. Entrance costed 10 euro and I believe that what I get for this price was totally worth it. The opportunity to see hundreds of figures (some of them available only in a few hundred copies worldwide) was really great. Even despite the fact that I am not a huge comics’ fan myself, it was a great experience and I can recommend it to everyone.
Comics Art Museum
The next place on my geeky map is the Comics Art Museum located at Rue des Sables in a building designed by the famous architect Victor Horta. The building itself is really nice (as you can see on some of the pictures below). But here, the museum is the more important part of my review. The first part of the exhibition’s theme is to showthat the comic art was not a completely new idea. The exhibition explains that the art of showing a story using a set of pictures was present from the ancient times.
After this short historic information we can go to the second part of the exhibition focused on describing (and showing) how comics are created: starting from the early phases of writing the script, through sketches, to the final product. This part was really nice and informative. Even though there were no extraordinary items displayed, it was a really good educational part. Later on, the exhibition showed different genres of comics and I must say I had some issues with it. I am not a specialist, but the method used by creators mixed different classification criteria. On one hand, there were genres, like Heroic Fantasy, Science Fiction, Historical and so on. And on the other hand, there were age-related criteria, like childrens’ comics, YA, just to name a few. The exhibition presented them in a way that suggested that this method was the only way of comics classification.
Both these parts of the exhibition contained a large number of comic pages at different stages of production. Some of them were really nice and some of them were not quite to my taste. Still, the time spent among them was a time well spent. After seeing this part of the exhibition, I went forward to the gallery where the artworks from La Famille Blaireau-Renard: Les Arbres (The Badger-Fox Family and the Trees) were presented. Those were nice pieces of art created for children.
Later on, I moved forward to some smaller expositions and lastly, there was a large temporary exhibition about Marc Wasterlain and his art. I must mention that I was tired by then (I had to wake up at 4 AM to get to Brussels) and on top of that most items were comic pages and although general information was available in English, the comics themselves were not translated. Because of that this exhibition was not as fascinating for me as it could have been.
At the ground floor of the museum, there is a shop (offering mainly comics, but also some merchandise) and a library. The latter looks terrific with hundreds (if not thousands) of comic books stored in one room. I did not spend too much time there and most of the titles were not available in English, but that place must be a heaven for a French speaking person.
The entry fee for the whole Comic Art Museum is 10 euro and I believe it was worth it. The exhibitions were maybe not extraordinary for me, but there was a lot of useful information and this is very important part of visiting museum. What I miss was the fact that manga and also American superhero comic were completely not present here.
Marc Sleen Museum
Just opposite Comics Art Museum is another one. It is dedicated to Marc Sleen – Belgian cartoonist. I am sorry to say that but I have not met with his works before, yet I decided it may be worth to check the museum. This one is quite small and concentrates on the works of only one artistI, but it was also quite interesting. The exhibition shows some basic information about Marc Sleen and his works. In the basement, there is a reconstruction of the working room that Marc Sleen used till his death in 2016. Lastly, one can go upstairs and see a short exhibition about the collaboration between Marc Sleen and Dirk Stallaert.
One can see the whole museum within 20 minutes’ time but you have the chance to spend some more time in here in an interesting way. The main room of the museum is the place where a comic artist draws comics pictures . It was possible to talk to him or just look at him working. Due to time constraints, I did not spend too much time there, but I really regret it. In general, everyone in the museum was very friendly. The visit inspired me to take a look at the works of Marc Sleen and although I won’t read all of them (over 200 comic books were published) I hope to spend some nice time reading a part of his works.
Marc Sleen museum is free to enter and really nice even if small. If you would have those twenty minutes to visit it I am sure it will be worth your time.
There is more to see
I regret to say it, but there was one more geekish museum that I hadn’t managed to visit. It was the Museum of Fantastic Art. I hope that I will have the opportunity to visit this place in the future. What I have seen however was a Belgian Beer Museum. It is not a geeky place per se, but I know that many fans may be interested in it. Here I must mention that I am disappointed. The museum itself is really small and the exhibition is not so fascinating. There was a film screened, but not many other things to see. Yet the entry fee (5 euro) includes tasting of Belgian beer, so I am sure some of you may find this one worth checking.
And here it is the end of my guide – I hope I will be able to write a similar one from some of my future trips.
P.S.2 Just outside MOOF there is an official Smurfs shop.
My next post will be published on 8th July.