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Permit approved for new Le Chat museum in Brussels

17:03 23/04/2021

The building permit for a museum dedicated to the popular cartoon Le Chat has been approved by the Brussels-Capital Region. The museum will be built in a space between the Brussels Experience building and Bozar, accessible via Rue Royale.

The modern glass building will have seven floors, but three of them will be underground. There will be underground access to the Coudenberg archaeological site, and Bozar will use part of the underground space for additional storage.

The museum will be dedicated to 40 years in the life of Le Chat, the beloved francophone cat drawn by Philippe Geluck. Le Chat ran in Le Soir newspaper as a generally one-panel cartoon for more than 30 years, eventually becoming the paper’s mascot.

Location of new Le Chat museum
The museum will be located between the space between Experience Brussels and Bozar

The French-speaking world is mad for Le Chat, which has become iconic for its simple style and hilarious text. More than 12 million copies of the album collections have sold over the decades, and Geluck stages regular exhibitions around the world dedicated to his feline friend and his process as an artist.

Le Chat is known for his observations and jokes, which always come off as droll as he stares straight at the readers, and his facial expression never changes. Examples of Le Chat’s monologues include: “I rather enjoy being on my own … and I like it all the more depending on who is not there.” Or “Being old is just being young longer than anyone else. That’s all.” Sometimes Le Chat’s comments would reflect the headlines of the day.

While the comics have been translated into other languages, they have never taken off anywhere near the extent of the original French-language versions.

Philippe Geluck at the Le Chat exhibition in Paris
Philippe Geluck at the opening of a public exhibition of bronze Le Chats last month in Paris  ©Foc Kan/WireImage

It is often said that Le Chat is an illustrated form of stand-up comedy, and its author has indeed staged one-man shows. Geluck is also a popular TV host and radio personality. Just last month, a series of 20 large-scale bronze statues of Le Chat in various poses opened on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.

The Le Chat museum is a public private partnership, funded by the region and by investors brought together by Geluck. When the project was being discussed three years ago, a price of some €14 million was quoted, with at least €4.5 paid by private investors.

Now that the permit has been approved, construction works are expected to begin within a few months. The building is scheduled to be finished by the end of 2023, and which point Geluck and his team will themselves stage the installations. The museum should open sometime in 2024.

Photo top ©Philippe Geluck

Written by Lisa Bradshaw