In the shadow of the mines: landscape art in Genk

Today Genk is mostly known for its mining history, but did you know that the city was also known in the past for its natural resources?

Today we are following in the footsteps of famous landscape painters of the 19th and 20th centuries who felt completely at home in the former wetlands. However, we have to look carefully to still see wetlands; most of the Mill Pond Park is now taken up by the beautiful Mill Pond.

Literally following in the footsteps

Almost invisible in the grass, we see a tile with two footprints on it pointing in a certain direction. Through the information in the ErfgoedApp we learn that the artists' guild painted the landscape here 150 years ago. So we are literally standing in the footsteps of the artists!

Using images of the paintings in the ErfgoedApp , we can vividly imagine what the place must have looked like back then: we can just barely see the Kozenhuisje with its original inhabitants appearing before us.


The foot tile of the Chosen House © Lowie Bergmans; Erfgoedapp.

A different kind of art

Not only artists descended on the fauna and flora of the Genk marshland, scientists also came here fanatically searching for special critters. Among other things, we discover the story of spider and insect expert Léon Becker (1826-1909), who discovered the spring fire spider here. Only in 2009 was this spider species found again in Belgium, on the moors of Lommel.
Léon Becker did not yet have a camera to photograph his discoveries, so he made watercolors of his finds. From the drawings found in the ErfgoedApp , we see that he too clearly possessed an artistic talent.

Everyone artist

The idyllic landscape may have largely disappeared in the Genk swamp, but there are still plenty of beautiful scenes to spot. Those who cross the Europalaan via the Ouwe Péekes Bridge, where streetcars and trains used to drop off artists and scientists in Genk, can purchase their own painting kit in the Emile Van Doren Museum shop. Scattered in the Molenvijver Park are several easels on which you are free to sit and paint. Do you like painting the ducks on Mill Pond or are you more of a fan of the remaining, swampy area at the back of the park? Make your own creation and who knows, maybe you'll get the painting itch too!

Did you know that the name of the Old Péekes Bridge comes from an assisted living facility that used to be nearby? When the weather was nice, the residents of the residential care center would take this bridge to go to Molenvijver Park. This sometimes even created veritable "wheelchair and walker traffic jams"!

Of course, you can also enjoy the Mill Pond area without any real talent for painting, like us, and immerse yourself in the world of the Genk artists' guild. Be sure to check out the walk In the footsteps of ... in the ErfgoedApp and also immediately take a look at the website of the Emile Van Doren Museum for the latest exhibitions in the neighborhood.