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In the former National Bank

In its publication dated 6 May 2012, the weekly newspaper Le Vif/L’express included a long article entitled "Nos 25 musées coups de cœur" ("Our top 25 museums"). Only one museum from Mons appeared in it: the François Duesberg Museum of Decorative Arts. However, this was not a chance occurrence. The museum's inclusion was not a consecration but rather a confirmation of this unique cultural venue's place in the closed circle of prestige museums.

Above all, this place is the result of the commitment of a couple: Baronness Betty Duesberg and Baron François Duesberg.

Born in Liège on 7 August 1934 and with a doctorate in law, François Duesberg has spent his working life as a legal expert for an insurance company. He soon became interested in antique clocks and watches, acquiring his first piece in 1964. Already a perfectionist, he learnt in Brussels, separately from his professional duties, all the secrets of the cogs and mechanisms of these works of art from an old watchmaker with a business in the Sablon district. He still thrives on this passion today.

Alongside him, Betty, the daughter of a miner from the Liège area, began collecting artistic tableware: porcelain and silverware.

Over the years, the collection of clocks grew to some 200 pieces, including some quite exceptional pieces. This was in the early 1990s. Following the resounding success of the “De Noir et d’Or” exhibition at the Bellevue Museum (Royal Museums of Art and History) in Brussels, the couple began looking for a venue for a permanent exhibition so that as many people as possible would be able to see their most exceptional items. This turned out to be the former building of the National Bank, situate opposite St. Waudru's Collegiate Church in Mons, which would serve as the setting for their prestigious private collection. The city made this listed 19th-century building available to the Duesbergs, who donated part of their precious collection. The agreement was signed in December 1993.The museum opened its doors on 21 September 1994. The master of the premises welcomes all visitors himself. Passionate, tireless, lively and full of energy, François Duesberg is an extraordinary person who conveys his enthusiasm to you and tells you many details of the history of each of his pieces. It is spellbinding to see the remarkable, flawless condition of each item (of which there are approximately 3000 in Mons alone!).

The collection of over 300 clocks (made between 1785 and 1815), the collection of artistic tableware (including silverware and rare porcelain), as well as hundreds of precious jewels and unusual objects together form a collection that is unique in the world. It is the fruit of decades of tireless passion and a true work of art.

The City of Mons can be proud to have such a jewel within its domain: a museum whose fame has now spread around the world. Thanks to this collection's outstanding reputation, Mons is a name mentioned in all four corners of the planet. Mr and Mrs Duesberg are unquestionably our best ambassadors at an international level.

The Museum of Decorative Arts is also the first and only Mons museum to be awarded two stars by the famous Michelin Guide, an undeniably authoritative point of reference. There have been countless articles full of praise in specialist magazines. Not to mention the many visitor's books (over 40!) filled with positive comments.

          Photos : C. Carpentier



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