The exposition “From tomorrow to Delvaux” has publicly opened the new exhibition rooms of the “Museum Curtius” with its collections of archaeological, decorative, religious and Meuse art. This rather complex installation was meant to celebrate the opening of the renovated – and renamed museum – “Le Grand Curtius” this Spring 2009 together with the inauguration of the Guillemins Train Station designed by the famous Catalan architect Santiago Calatrava.
Thus the City of Liège chose in this occasion to rely on his honourable citizen Paul Delvaux “the painter of train stations”: the expo focuses on the ubiquitousness of train stations, trains and trams within the oeuvre of the late Belgian painter Delvaux. The selected works have been assembled from several local and foreign museums – as well as from other private collections.
Le Grand Curtius (after a recent 50 million Euro refurbishment) is probably the most prominent cultural venue in Liège housing in his eight floors a great deal of archaeological exhibits and decorative arts, including Mosan artworks, silverware, antique furniture. Within its old masterpieces (dated 1000 A.D. circa) it holds a figure of Christ from Amay, a 10th-century manuscript that once belonged to Bishop Notger named the Evangeliaire, a wooden tympanum with the “Mystery of Apollo” and an amazing Madonna by Dom Rupert.
The Museum is found in Curtius Palace which was once home to the 17th century Liège gentleman Jean de Corte (Latin: Curtius). This patrician’s house was build in early 1600 following the style of the Mosan Renaissance and today hosts exhibits from prehistoric, Roman and Frankish Medieval periods, coins, medals, furniture and a decorative art collection ranging from the Middle Ages to the French Revolution.
The museum – a huge red brick house – is located just by the river bank in spectacular surroundings: in fact Liège (in Flemish Luik), third town in Belgium, lies by the confluence of the Meuse (Maas) and the Ourthe. It is the capital of French-speaking Wallonia, owing to its locational advantages and long tradition an important coal, steel and textile industrial centre with one of the largest inland ports in Europe; yet Liège is also an educational centre with over 40 thousand students attending over twenty institutes and offers quite an amazing set of fairytale scenarios.
The Historical Heart of the City of Liège has bet on the Grand Curtius to corroborate its natural appeal. The recent restoration of the nearby Saint Bartholomew’s Church and its surroundings offer an extraordinary view also on the St. Bartholomew Square decorated by Mady Andrien. Within this framework the City of Liège has wanted to create a new wider installation putting together more than one building located in site: the project has involved the Maison Curtius, the Résidence Curtius, the Hôtel de Brahy, the Hôtel Hayme de Bomal and the Hôtel de Wilde.
The project intended to bring together diverse collections allowing the spectators and visitors to discover Liège’s heritage contained within:
The Arms Museum, situated in the Hôtel Hayme de Bomal grouping objects of international value. The oldest ones even go back to prehistory.
The Glass Museum, situated in the former Résidence Curtius has one of the most renown collections of artefacts. The oldest ones were made during the Egyptian period.
The Archaeological Museum and the Decorative Arts Museum, located in the former Maison Curtius where several collections dedicated essentially to the Country of Liège were gathered.
The Museum for Religious and Mosan Art, formerly situated in the rue Mère-Dieu.
The amount and the prodigious calibre of the collections exposed at the Grand Curtius within such a spectacular Middle Age burg are the expression of both artistic and technical craftsmanship, as well as the evolution of taste. Its masterpieces should remind to all modern observers and visitors our roots and origins.