Preserving History

As a photographer, your main job is to preserve history. A click with the right settings, and you did your job. It will live forever on paper. Sometimes you however make it your job to preserve a real bit of history in real life.

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© Google Streetview

When they started tearing down the building of a locally-famous photographer, something grabbed the attention of the project leader Raf. The beautiful, yet weathered, letters of ‘Portret Bartok’. The black cursive letters where the signature of the original photographer in the family, and that has continued over three generations. But the building had to be demolished, and fast too. Because the entire street had to be closed down, they only had two days to reduce the building to rubble.

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Just on the eve of the demolishment I’ve got a call from the project leader, asking me if I had any interests in the letters. I knew the poor state of the letters, and I didn’t have any place for them

anyhow, but I did knew the perfect place for them. Het Stadsmus, the local city museum with a vast collection, including old signs. Having some very good connections there, I contacted Tessa, the registrator of the museum. And she would be more than happy to have the letters donated. A call to the demolition company and a quick visit to the site made some impression, so they did their best to cut down the original wooden lettering as careful as they did.

Early next morning there was a small press moment, just for me.

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As I was the liaison between two parties I got the scoop for my newspaper, and a visible piece of Hasselt was preserved both on photo, and in the museum.

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