On Friday Feb. 5, 2016, the Royal Museum for Central Africa opened ‘Going Postal. (Hi)stories and philately in Belgium’, one of the last pop-up exhibitions while being closed for renovation work. This exhibition presents precious pieces unknown to the public, from private and RMCA collections of postal history.
The opening event
With approximately a hundred people or so attending the event on February 5th, the opening was a warm way to mix scientists, curators, art lovers, philatelists and experts under the glass-roof of the newly renovated patio of Belvue Museum, proving once again, that stamps and philately are still in favour of a large range of people.
In their speeches, Director G. Gryseels (RMCA) and Dr D. Allard (King Baudouin Foundation) underlined the privileged relations the Foundation and the Museum have in common, while the curators of the exhibition, Dr M. Leduc-Grimaldi & P. Maselis emphasized the dynamism of philately, a genre and a collecting process attracting international attention, from kids to fashion designers, Museum curators, and heads of states alike.
The exhibition “Going Postal” presents for the first time to the general public the postal collection of the RMCA mixed with loans from major private collectors from Belgium and bpost, the Belgian Post Group. This conjunction is the occasion of a cultural cross-fertilization in a field rarely opened to broad audiences: art, engineering, politics, or scientific expeditions in stamps highlight the dynamism of Belgium, inside or outside the country.
A unique postal collection
The RMCA postal collection is unique in its constitution. Made of the iconographic archives from postal administration of the Ministry of Colonies, it keeps the various stages of a stamp creating process of, from the Ministry’s decision to the implementation of the project and its final outcome. The RMCA holds the initial sketches, watercolours, tests of colours, or proofs of stamps that were used in the Congo Free State, then in the Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi, from 1885 up to their independence. The rendering of the dainty flora and the lively animals is enchanting, the detailed drawings of pieces of African art, stupendous.
Besides bringing back this exceptional collection to its original lustre, tracking and researching additional documents split at an earlier period was the usual curator’s work. It offers an unparalleled example of views of the country at that period, and echoes the colonial demeanour of the period, when Belgium and Congo’s histories followed the same path for a while.
– Temporary exhibition :’Going Postal. (Hi)stories and philately in Belgium‘
title in French: ‘Complètement timbré.Histoires et philatélie en Belgique’
title in Dutch: ‘Filateliefde.De geschiedenis van België via postzegels‘)
– From 6 February until 10 April 2016
– Location: BELvue museum, Place des Palais 7, 1000 Brussels
– Free entrance
– Open from Tuesday to Friday from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; during the weekend from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; on Monday, for groups, by appointment.