Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since July 2012, the Grand Hornu site is a gem of 19th century European industrial heritage. This jewel of industrial history is one of the most important showcases for contemporary art in Belgium. Imagine a huge mining complex built in the 19th century which hosts work by designers from around the world and you will get the site of Le Grand-Hornu, a unique site that houses the Museum of Contemporary Arts of the Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Mac's) and the Innovation and Design Centre (CID).
Design in a former colliery: the combination can take you by surprise. And it surprises! Even before you have passed through the doors of this cultural centre, the site can but amaze its visitors. It is the work of a visionary, Henri De Gorge, who at the beginning of the 19th century imagined an ultra modern complex in which the miners lived and worked. Listed in the Unesco world heritage, Grand Hornu is one of the most beautiful witnesses of the Industrial Revolution in Belgium.
The Mac's (Museum of Contemporary Arts)
The Museum of Contemporary Arts (MAC’s) is one of the French Community of Belgium’s leading cultural projects. This space dedicated to contemporary creation designed by Pierre Hebbelinck, one of the main actors involved in architectural renewal in Wallonia, is the latest in the succession of redevelopments to take place at the site, which were initiated in the late 1980s by the Permanent Deputy, Claude Durieux. With a view to adopting a broad-ranging international acquisitions and exhibitions policy, the Museum’s artistic management was entrusted to Laurent Busine, who has orchestrated the project since 1991. It's in january 2016 that Laurent Busine retired and leaved the MAC's in the hands of his successor, Denis Gielen.
With its ambitious vocation to introduce the greatest possible number of people to contemporary arts, the MAC’s received financial support from the outset (september 2002) from the Province of Hainaut, the owner of the historic site, the Walloon Region, the French Community and the European Union. Its location mid-way along a motorway connecting France with the Netherlands and Germany makes it one of the most accessible cultural ports of call.
With a cultural activities department that was operational from the outset, the Museum identifies its mission as "educating the eye". The MAC’s cultural action, combined with that of Grand-Hornu Images, makes the Grand-Hornu site the most important contemporary arts’ showcase in Belgium, as it represents the entire spectrum of current creation.
Numerous artists from Belgium and abroad have already been presented, including: Luciano Fabro, Giuseppe Penone, Marie José Burki, Anish Kapoor, Patrick Corillon, Jean-Luc Mylaine, Robert Mappelthorpe, Christian Boltanski, Ann Veronica Janssens, Thierry De Cordier, Gilbert and Georges, Art and Language, ...
The CID (Innovation and Design Centre)
Today, this majestic site which spreads over 4 hectares, houses the MAC's, a Museum of contemporary art, and this famous Innovation and Design Centre. The particularity of the CID, is that it does not have its own collections. It lives to the pace of the exhibitions it presents. From one year to the next, from one month to another, you will not discover the same works. Each exhibition raises its own discoveries and questions. Because the primary purpose of CID is to question you. As Marie Pok, Director, puts so eloquently:
"design is a discipline that affects everyone of us. A Chair, a lamp, a toothbrush, a coach... those objects affect us all.”
The CID questions our relation with the object. Connoisseur or design novice, you can only ask yourself questions: what is this object for? What did the artist want to say be presenting it in such form? Why has he used such materials?