Plaetens Collection. From the shadows into the light

The hidden secrets of Grand-Hornu
10.09.19 to 05.01.20


The Documentation Centre of Grand-Hornu is pleased to present you an exhibition entitled « Plaetens Collection. From the shadows into the light », a selection of documents of which the majority comes from the Plaetens Collection on the theme of Well number 9 Sainte-Désirée and the Machine Building Workshop.  

For the past two years, Roland Holbrechts and Jacques Vandormael, two enthusiasts of the Grand-Hornu, supervised by Celine Ganty, in charge of the Documentation Centre, have been archiving several documents related to the Hornu site. These documents were collected by Leon Plaetens at the end of the Sixties.

A little bit of history... Born in Borinage, employed at the Supply Department of the Union Minière and amateur filmmaker, Leon Plaetens fell in love at first sight with the Grand-Hornu during the shooting of one of his films in 1968. Since that, he devoted all his leisure time to the history of this grandiose site and its founder Henri De Gorge, consulting tirelessly notarial minutes, official archives, civil state registers, accounting statements... and this with an uncommon perspicacity. This makes him one of the most eminent specialists of the Grand-Hornu, unanimously recognized among peers from the History and Archaeology Circle of Saint-Ghislain and from History and Folklore Circle Henri Guillemin of Haine-Saint-Pierre. On the death of Mr. Leon Plaetens, a part of his collections was bequeathed by his daughter to Grand-Hornu Images (now the CID). This important collection contains many copies of plans and archival documents from all over the world (Belgium, France, the Netherlands, ...) and also precious iconographic documents (maps, plans, photos, ...) and textual documents (business registers, letters, inventories, ...).

Some plans have a real artistic aspect that make them masterpieces of the technique of the time. Therefore Grand-Hornu offers you to experience a wonderful dive into its past.


10 September 2019 to 05 January 2020
  • Curator
    Roland Holbrechts et Jacques Vandormael
    assistés par Céline Ganty