Tiny Belgian Time Capsules: le Clockarium

Tiny Belgian Time Capsules: le Clockarium

This isn’t technically tiny, yet a time capsule it is. Even more: this place ìs all about time, collecting lost pieces of it and storing it on endless shelves. Rows and rows and rows of faience clocks, each one a silent witness of the lives and families it has woken up, sent off to work and back to bed throughout the years. 

Hidden in a candy-colored little Art Deco house on the swamped Reyerslaan -blink and you’ll miss it- The Clockarium is a surprising museum, to say the least. It shelters the lifework of a collector whose particular passion focuses on the relatively short-lived trend of faience clocks: elaborate timepieces that used to shine bright on every family’s mantelpiece in Belgium and Northern France. The particular trend popped up at the start of the Industrial Revolution, when time suddenly became a big deal for everybody: workers left their farms and homesteads, where one abided by sunlight, to start a new life in urban areas, where the factories’ opening times were reigning. A clock had become a necessary evil in every household and, equally thanks to the industrialization, cheap versions in faience were there for the taking -coming off the assembly line in huge numbers.

Hence it became the central piece in people’s homes, even the poorest ones, and they collectively started going crazy with the decorative side of it. From abstract art deco ornaments to cats, dogs, gods, geese, scary clowns, romantic shepherds, elephants, bathers in big costumes, and so on: there was no restraint when it came to impress one’s neighbors! After the Second World War, the habit quietly faded: the democratic wrist watch had been invented for war pilots and everybody got to carry his own magic piece of time upon his person. Which means the mantlepiece clock became irrelevant, leaving an empty spot in people’s heart and homes to express their love for everything kitsch. Kaboom!

Years later, one man contracted the self-proclaimed collectomania virus and started collecting every mantlepiece clock he could find .The result: 4000 of them shining bright behind the walls of a pink little house, a dog named Hector working shifts as their time keeper. Why would you want to visit? Wandering along its shelves sure appeals to the imagination, plus there are some major Where Is Wally game possibilities here! You can try it yourself every Sunday at 3:05 pm sharp -be on time, as it is lord of this particular manor…

PS: You can also rent the museum for dinner parties and other events -just consider all the “fashionably late” jokes you’ll get to make on the invite! More info via Clockarium.

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