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An invitation to enjoy travel and exoticism

The decorative arts in all their splendour

As in the famous novel "Paul et Virginie", it was an invitation to travel to a distant place enshrouded in exoticism that Baron François Duesberg gave us when he opened the heavy doors to his museum.Behind the vast, finely wrought railings – relics of the former National Bank of Belgium, which was the original occupant of this superb building on Square Roosevelt – visitors catch a fleeting, precious glimpse of the flawless, delicate layout, subtly arranged by the Duesbergs.

The François Duesberg Museum, the museum of decorative arts in Mons, has seen its importance underscored again, as it was very recently awarded a new star rating in the 2013 edition of the essential "Michelin Green Guide". The museum has now been given two stars. Not only that, but highly unusually, the famous collection of old clocks, which makes us the envy of the world's biggest museums, was also specifically given two stars.This collection of old clocks forms the heart of the permanent exhibition, unique and unseen elsewhere, which brings together objects made of gilt bronze, silver and porcelain, and where the art of time and the art of the table sit side by side in soft, subtle refinement.

Open to all

These two themes are spread out over numerous display cases designed by the Duesbergs in the style of a cabinet of curiosities… or rather a cabinet of wonders, in which each object ravishes the vision and stimulates the imagination.The intelligence of the museum displays created by François and Betty Duesberg make each person's visit varied and enthralling: French literature from the Age of Enlightenment, social history and customs, history of technology and inventions, artistic creations, museology and interior decoration, etc. The museum's approach is suitable for everyone, including children.

"It's passion – the only driving force that gives meaning to existence"

François Duesberg describes the collection that he present to us as almost "pathological": "It's passion – the only driving force that gives meaning to existence. Passion, which marries within it the greatest joy and the most dreadful fear."The fact that this collection is the life's work of just one couple gives it real added value. And this in particular is inseparable from its creators' souls.

For all these reasons, the collection put together by Betty and François Duesberg sets a benchmark: the biggest experts, the biggest foreign museums and representatives of the art market consider it both avant-garde and original, due to both its design and underlying themes.

More specifically with regard to clocks, most museums from other European countries do not manage to exhibit pieces of such variety and of a comparable quality. And this is not surprising, considering the perfection of the collection of clocks and watches, mostly Parisian, which is of the same level as the collections of the Louvre, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and the Mobilier National in Paris.This testifies to the importance of this place, which embodies reflection on the close links between culture and technology, as conceived in the Age of Enlightenment, to an event like Mons 2015.

Clocks, silverware, porcelain…

The collections of the François Duesberg Museum emphasise magnificently one of Mons's most glorious periods – the 18th century – just like its rich, varied and surprisingly well preserved architecture.

The François Duesberg Museum offers a detailed presentation of an invigorating aspect of the Age of Enlightenment, based on collections built up by a patron couple who invite you to discover, or rediscover, the clocks, gilt and/or burnished bronzes, porcelain, gold and silverware and cameos in this sublime temple to neoclassical art.

     

Monumentale pendule de Paul et Virginie entourée de bustes de Bonaparte et Napoléon
Photo : C. Carpentier

 

Pendule figurant la rencontre de Robinson Crusoé et Vendredi

Photo : C. Carpentier

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