French architect Christian de Portzamparc’s first childhood drawings were of Captain Haddock and his sailing ships, central elements in the adventures of boy reporter and comic book hero Tintin. Now, with obvious affinity and affection, the Pritzker-Prize-winning architect has designed an exuberant new museum for Tintin, Haddock and the rest of the cartoon crew created by Belgian artist Georges Rémi, known as Hergé. Located in the university town of Louvain-la-Neuve, 20 miles southeast of Brussels, the Hergé Museum is a white “prism” set slightly askew on stilts at the edge of a wooded park, with a soaring interior inspired by the seaports, schooners and cargo steamers of Tintin’s travels. The vast lobby, flooded with light through glass walls and skylights, encloses huge structures in odd shapes and pastel colors—pale yellow, coral, lilac, sky blue—connected by open gangways, and a square elevator column in a navy-and-white checkerboard pattern echoes Tintin’s famed red-and-white moon rocket. The museum’s permanent collection of 80 original plates and more than 800 drawings, photos, posters, figurines and toys features not only Tintin but other Hergé characters and graphic works.
Originally published in the July/August 2009 issue of France Today.