When in Brugges one shouldn’t do what they do in ‘In Brugges’ the movie. Throwing yourself off the Bell Tower is not going to do anyone any good. So I climbed down and went to the Chocolate Museum.
It was a moderately amusing hour. And there was free chocolate. But what I liked most were the books. They were in glass cases, illuminated, their pages splayed open licentiously, their illustrations on show to passing tourists. They reminded me of something else entirely.
But they were largely ignored; lost in the company of cheap cocoa bean models. There was something sad about it. These were good books. Valuable and rare. Here is a 1601 Rariorum Historia Plantarum.
They can’t have been cheap or easy to acquire yet they are reduced to just two pages. I cannot decide whether this is a good or bad use of such precious objects. Should they be thoroughly enjoyed by one person or very slightly observed by many?
It was almost edifying to see a copy of Paul Smith’s contribution to the Penguin Designer Classics range at his recent exhibition at the Design Museum in London.
Handsomely presented and curated, it sat there, amid the clothes, the reconstructions of his office and the Mini, as precious as object as any.
It’s impossible to say what effect it may have had on visitors (predominantly art and design students, from what I saw) but if books are going to persist as desirous objects and inspire new generations of collectors they require such exposure.