They welcome you, keep you informed, guide you and take the utmost care to ensure that your visit to Autoworld runs as smoothly as possible. Who are these people you only know by sight? Today we are meeting André. This amiable man knows the museum like the back of his hand. And for good reason. André literally lives in the museum since the first day. In other words, … for 34 years.
With his slap on 80 years André has practically done everything, experienced everything, seen everything at Autoworld. Apart from general management he has held (almost) all the positions. Even though retired, he has the museum in his skin and always ready when called upon for an evening event, helping with the setting up of exhibitions, or keeping a close eye on children who were building Lego cars this summer. Always ready, always smiling but with a strong temperament. “You can’t pull the wool over his eyes”! and when it comes to being a gendarme at the entrance to a private party, he definitely makes himself heard.
“I’ve experienced quite a few things in this museum!”, André recalled. “I will never forget the winter of 1986/1987. The Buildings Agency was meant to replace the three boilers. It was -17°C outside and …-17°C inside! Obviously not a single visitor but, throughout two full days, the 5 Securitas guards, myself and another person, were rushing from one car to another to drain their radiators so that they wouldn’t freeze and avoid damage to the engines. Likewise, with the toilets. We heated up some water and rushed off to pour it into the network of pipes. That lasted a whole week! “
Ranging from evening parties with hundreds of people, to fashion shows and car exhibitions … André has hardly missed a thing. “At first the mezzanine was also filled with cars. When they needed to be moved it was quite a removal exercise! Today we have special machines but in those days we used a jack and a compressor. We needed to reinflate the tyres … Very often preparing for an exhibition took more time than the actual exhibition.”
During the years that followed the opening of the museum in 1986, the latter was managed by Yvan Mahy, the son of Ghislain Mahy, the collector. He had set up a small apartment behind the offices. “Yvan Mahy loved working on his cars in the museum at any time of the day, and we often came across him with his head under the bonnet. So, the visitors, not knowing who this person was in blue overalls, also started opening the bonnets of cars and I had to go over and amiably lecture them.” So, you will have realised, André is the living memory of Autoworld. We never tire of listening to his anecdotes. Should you meet him in the museum, do not hesitate to ask him to recount one or other of those. You will succumb to his charm.