Last Sunday’s lovebirds were spotted in Parc de Roodebeek where, in one of those fortunate turns of events, I had gone to see tiles and ended up being charmingly cajoled by the residents of a mini-zoo.
Goats, donkeys, ducks, giant rabbits, cute Shetland ponies and birds, share the premises with a school, a municipal museum and an arboretum teeming with wildlife. I had completely forgotten about the animals, even though the park used to be part of my walk routine when, fifteen years ago, I lived in the neighbourhood.
As for the tiles, it was a Heritage Days weekend which meant that the museum would exceptionally be open on both days. Outside such occasions it operates to an unconventional timetable, opening only during exhibitions, a bit difficult to follow. Also, it coincided with one of my mother’s rare trips to Brussels and since we both share a taste for Delft tiles, I knew she would enjoy it too.
The Municipal Museum is actually a house, formerly owned by a certain Emile Devos, a carpenter and builder from Brussels. He constructed it in 1893 and decorated the interior with wood panelling and blue and white ceramic tiles from Delft. At least that’s what I thought, until a more careful look at a brochure informed me that the tiles originate from Makkum, a small Dutch town in the province of Friesland. Which doesn’t make the collection less impressive or gorgeous.
Then in 1909, Symbolist painter Constant Montald came to live next door. After the Second World War the two properties were joined. In absence of heirs the widow of Emile Devos bequeathed his estate to the municipality of Woluwe Saint Lambert, on the condition that the house would become a museum and the park be opened to the public. Montald’s property was sold to the municipality by his nephew and only heir.
After a number of transformations the museum first opened its doors in 1950. The highlights of its permanent collection include three Montald paintings and those magnificent wall to wall, blue and white ceramic tiles.
Musée communal de Woluwe-Saint-Lambert
40, rue de la Charrette
Parc de Roodebeek, 21 September 2014
Shared image credits (Konstantinos & Lia)