France’s Musée d’Arts de Nantes reopens tomorrow following a six-year, €48.8m refurbishment by Stanton Williams.
The British practice was tasked with making the complex – formerly known as the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes – more inviting to the public, and increasing existing exhibition space by a third. It added a 4,000 sq m ‘cube’ to the original 19th-century Palais and 17th-century oratory chapel, which now houses a multi-channel video installation by artist Bill Viola.
Says Stanton Williams director Patrick Richards: ’The new Museum has been conceived around the existing collections; creating an intimate dialogue between art and architecture that firmly embeds the new Museum within the distinctive historical setting of the city.’
Old and new volumes are connected by a gallery that spans the Cours Dupré, and the extension’s marble façade helps blur the line between the structures. This dialogue continues inside the new volume, where a staircase with a suspended curtain wall made from marble and translucent glass is a contemporary riposte to the historic staircase in the Palais.
Stanton Williams created an auditorium, extra gallery space and educational facilities in a new basement beneath the Palais, as well as an archive and external sculpture courtyard on the site.
‘These are not only additional square metres, but a distinct cultural action,’ said Jean-Louis Jossic, joint culture delegate of the Ville de Nantes. ‘With this Musée d’Art we are inventing something that has not been done before. Experiment, dare, propose. To make it live!’
Artworks spanning nine centuries are displayed across the 17,000 sq m museum – one of the largest fine arts museums in France outside Paris, while exhibition space in the Cube will be dedicated to contemporary art.
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