Last Sunday new exhibition opened its doors to the public at the MIAT museum - 'Made by children. Child labor then and now'. This exhibition gives child labour a face by presenting a striking personal stories of 14 children, aged from 8 to 14.
Some of the stories are of children here in Belgium, some are of children from the abroad, some stories relate to the past, others to the present.
An interactive timeline shows the main milestones in the history of child labour in Belgium.
The story that attracted my attention was the story of Josef Balthazar (age 8), a printers apprentice at 'Gebroeders Meere' printing house in Gent. In those days the craft printing culture had its own history, lexicon and traditions. If you were an apprentice in a printing house, you most probably would be called a “printers devil”. The work itself was quite tedious and possibly the first job you’d get as an apprentice would involve breaking up the columns and distributing the type after they had been used to print a book or newspaper. You’d clean them off and sort the individual pieces of type back into the type cases according to letter, font and size. The apprentices worked under a system of rules like the other trades. You would start out as a printers devil (apprentice), work your way up and then become a master printer in your late 20s or 30s.
The young Jozef is telling us his story of going to school at the age of six, starting as an apprentice in 'Gebroeders Meere' printing house in Gent and how he began working at the Drukkerij Buyck at the age of 12. He also took an evening classes where he learnt a trade of mixing the colours.
Quite interesting to see the working hours/wages table and the difference between the apprentice, typesetter and printer as it was at the Drukkerij Hayez in Brussels in 1904.
At the exhibition your kids can also learn the skills of distributing the type or take an interactive tour with guide and tablet, so bring them along :)
Made by children. Child labor then and now - 20.11.16 - 07.01.17
MIAT, Minnemeers 10, 9000 Gent