Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc

Ecomusée Régional du Centre

Useful Information

Location: 2b rue Saint Patrice, 7110 La Louviere.
E19/E42 Motorway Bruxelles-Mons-Paris, exit #21 Le Roeulx, towards Houdeng-La Louvière, after the canal first right. Signposted.
(50.470564, 4.149688)
Open: APR to SEP Tue-Fri 9-17, Sat, Sun, Hol 10-18.
OCT to MAR Tue-Fri 9-17.
Last entry 2 h before closing.
Fee: Adults EUR 9, Children (7-17) EUR 6, Children (0-6) free, Students EUR 6, Seniors (60+) EUR 8, Disabled EUR 4.
Audioguide EUR 1, Exhibition EUR 2.
Guided Tour: Adults EUR 12, Children (7-17) EUR 9, Children (0-6) free, Students EUR 9, Seniors (60+) EUR 11.
Classification: MineCoal Mine SubterraneaReplica Underground Mine TopicÉcomusée
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours: D=2 h.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Musée de la Mine et du Développement Durable du Bois-du-Luc, Rue Saint Patrice 2b, B-7110 La Louvière, Belgique, Tel: +32-64-282000. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1685 start of mining.
1780 first steam engine installed.
1846 colliery Saint Emmanuel opened.
1855 offices and workshops built.
1907 building renovated.
31-DEC-1959 colliery Saint Emmanuel closed.
1973 mining ends with the closure of the last colliery Le Quesnoy at Trivières.
1983 first Belgian Ecomuseum opened.
1992 funds by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
1996 declared Patrimoine exceptionnel de Wallonie (exceptional heritage of Wallonia).
2012 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
2016 two separate museums united and renamed.


The La Louvière Basin runs east-west, to the west the Mons Basin follows, to the east the Charleroi Basin. They are bordered by the Brabant Massif in the north and the Diannt Fold & Thrust Belt in the south. Those basins are composed of sedimentary rocks which were deposited during the Mesozoic, on the surface there are Cretaceous rocks, below Carbon sediments with coal seams. The basins are the main coal areas of Belgium.


The Musée de la Mine et du Développement Durable du Bois-du-Luc is located at the colliery Saint Emmanuel. This area is called the second birthplace of the industrial revolution. The story started with three miners, two merchants from Binche and two bourgeois from Mons. On the 14th February 1685 they founded the Société du Grand Conduit et du Charbonnage de Houdeng. The combination of working class providing their work power and knowledge, and middle class, providing the financial base, is the first example of a capitalist structure in Europe.

The next step is the use of steam power. In 1780 the first steam engine, produced by Forges, Usines et Fonderies d'Haine-St-Pierre, was installed at the mine for pumping water. This allowed the lowering of the groundwater and thus deeper mining.

In 1838 a miner's town named Bosquetville was founded near the collieries. The idea was to draw workers to the pit, which was in need of more miners, by providing comfortable living conditions. The houses had only two rooms at first, but later they were improved. The artificial city was completed in 1853. The housing complex is part of the Major Mining Sites of Wallonia, designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2012. It's possible to visit one of the houses.

However, as always the economic situation changes and workers formerly sought after were later exploited. Workers starting to fight back, for example, by striking, are now seen as attackers by the mine owners, and the mines are secured. In 1896 the mine was surrounded by a wall with huge doors. The doors were mounted in vertical grooves and resembled the guillotine, so they were called portes guillotines (guillotine doors).

The offices and workshops were built in 1855 for the new Société des Charbonnages du Bois-du-Luc (Amalgamated collieries of Bois-du-Luc). They were renovated and expanded by the Brussels architect Charles-Emile Janlet (*1839-✝1919) in 1907. He designed not only the buildings but also the interior and the furniture. The interior was designed is a style called biais du trompe-l'œil, which is the imitation of exclusive materials like marble or bronze by certain techniques of pictorial effects. The furniture was built in the workshops of the mine.

When the last mine closed in 1973, there were plans to demolish the mine and the miner's town to build a shopping mall. Fortunately this did not happen, the locals fought against the plans, and in 1974 the site was repurchased by the State. Abbé Robert Pourbaix founded the Groupe d'Animation Culturelle de Bois-du-Luc (GABOS) in 1975 to defend the idea of heritage enhancement. The historian Jacques Liébin founded the non-profit organization Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc in 1983 with the aim of saving and enhancing the heritage. The Ecomusée Régional du Centre was opened in 1983, and was the first Ecomusée in Belgium. Later it was named Ecomusée du Bois-du-Luc, after the miner city where it is located. There was also a mining museum opened, called Musée de la Mine La Louvière (Mine Museum La Louvière) as it is located at La Louvière. And sometimes it is called Musée de la Mine Robert Pourbaix (Mining Museum Robert Pourbaix) after the priest Robert Pourbaix. We had some difficulties keeping all the names apart, and actually had two pages, for the two different museums. This was in a way correct as the Mining Museum (asbl Le GABOS) and the Ecomuseum, were two separate institutions for 35 years. After the site was listed on the World Heritage List in 2012, it was necessary to implementat a management plan. Finally, after a change of management in 2016, the two institutions change their goals. In 2018, the Ecomusée is renamed Musée de la Mine et du Développement Durable du Bois-du-Luc (Bois-du-Luc Mining and Sustainable Development Museum) which is so long and complicated, they generally abbreviate it Gabos abandons its separate exhibition and concentrates on educational activities, so there is only one museum left. As a result we have removed the mining museum page and integrated the content into this page.

The miner's village consists of numerous houses built of yellow brick in four blocks. At the southern side is the abandoned mine, on the western side the main buildings with the headframe, in the middle the mine owners villa, which is today the Mission Régionale pour l'Emploi du Centre, on the eastern site numerous mine buildings are today used for the museum and the exhibitions. It concentrates on the living and social situation of the miners, showing the work and the lives of the coal miners at Bois-du-Luc. The underground part of the museum is the Castelain gallery, a mine replica explaining the typical coal mining techniques and the underground working conditions. It is actually a reconstruction of the nearby Saint-Joseph pit. The normal visit is self-guided, as in any museum, but there is also a guided tour which includes Cour des ateliers (Workshops), Fosse St. Emmanuel (Headframe St. Emmanuel) and the maison d'un mineur (miners home). The museum includes the reconstruction of one home in the miner's village with furniture and all items of daily life from 1850, which is accessible only during the guided tour.