The M Collection currently comprises more than 52,000 works and counting. In many cases, our new acquisitions are purchased by the museum, but occasionally M also receives donations. For example, Huguette recently donated her 19th-century, Louis Philippe style mirror to the museum.
How did you acquire the mirror?
"The mirror has been in my family for many years. My grandmother died very young and my grandfather later remarried. His new partner’s brother-in-law had a house full of beautiful antiques and other treasures. We used to visit often when I was a child, which I loved! When they died in the mid-90s, the house was emptied and his possessions were divided between the four children, including my mother. She was given the mirror and that is how, years later, it came to me."
Did you always have a special connection to the mirror or was it more of a coincidence that you ended up with it?
"Well, I wouldn’t really call it a special connection, but I did like it more than all the other children in the family. I was more interested in that sort of thing than any of the others. I was always the one who visited museums and was most fascinated by ‘old things’. I have always loved history and everything related to it. In that sense, I always enjoyed having the mirror in our house. But it is also beautiful and practical. It is simply enormous, so it is perfect to check whether you coat and tie are still straight.” (laughs)
Now that the mirror is gone, do you have an empty space on the wall?
"Yes. But we were doing some renovations, and that is when we decided to get rid of it. If we hadn’t done the renovations, the mirror would probably never have come to M."
When did you decide to donate the mirror to M?
"I have lived in Leuven since I was eighteen. I studied here and stayed on afterwards, as many people do. I knew the museum and have always been a regular visitor and friend, even before its name changed. In short, there has always been a link with M, and so I thought: why not give it a try. But it certainly wasn’t an easy decision. I absolutely wanted to give the mirror a new home, but it is difficult to say goodbye to things to which you have developed an emotional attachment over the years. The fact that M thinks the mirror is important and valuable was very reassuring. I don’t know what the mirror is worth, but to me personally it is enormously important. The fact that the museum received it with open arms meant much more to me than any monetary value."
You were at the museum when it reopened. How did it make you feel to see the mirror on the wall?
"It was actually quite hard to see it surrounded by so many people. I felt like “so here it is, it is gone forever”. But on the other hand, it was very moving to see the mirror in such a beautiful spot, with excellent lighting and against a pretty, blue-green background. My mother was also very happy about the result. Ultimately, I feel very positive about it. My main concern was that the mirror should have a new home where it could be shown off to its best advantage and where other people could also enjoy it. And after all, I am not really saying goodbye. The mirror will stay close by so I can always pop in for a visit. And to make sure my outfit still looks good." (laughs)
The 19th-century mirror is exhibited in the collection presentation Form First