Niort > Bernard d'Agesci museum

Niort > Bernard d'Agesci museum

The Musée Bernard d’Agesci is situated within the walls of a former secondary school, the Lycée Jean Macé, a late 19th century building and clear landmark in the historical centre of Niort. The project specifications required that three different museum departments be created – fine arts, natural history and a department devoted to retracing the history of education from the early 20th century to current times. To this were to be added a library and auditorium for chamber music concerts and conferences. A spacious temporary exhibition space has been created on the ground floor, with restoration workshops for public and private use distributed over the two floors above. The admin department is housed in a 19th century pavilion adjoining the main building. As the original façade was extremely austere, the entrance has been shifted to the rear of the site, with a ramp leading visitors from the forecourt up to the main doorway. A glazed section, making playful reference to the long demolished glasshouse formerly on the site of the school, links the entrance hall to the temporary exhibition space. Its exterior glazing is silkscreen printed with a pixelated design in hues of green, making reference to the duckweed proliferating in the marshes not far from the town. The aid of an experiential designer was called upon for the interior layout of the Museum. A lift carries visitors slowly past showcases displaying major works from the collections. In the glazed section, an imposing wooden structure evokes stockpiles in the sawmills of the Poitiers region. It is used as a display cabinet for the natural history department’s collection of stuffed birds. A cabinet of curiosities encloses a wealth of exotic objects, while other display cases devoted to Islamic art are designed to resemble mashrabiyas. Although the school buildings themselves have been completely renovated, the spirit of the place has been preserved, as a living remembrance of its past. Glazed panels shed light on the spots where stairs once carried pupils from one classroom to another and the gardens offer fine vistas over the building’s western façade, while also providing extra room for the activities of the natural history department. The shear walls in the fine arts section were the subject of particular attention and the window shutters may be positioned so as to best regulate the light entering each gallery, thereby enhancing user comfort. The building is replete with examples of how the building’s inherent constraints became a source of inspiration for the architects, giving rise to the Museum’s playful, dynamic character and unceasing delights.
program
redevelopment of a former secondary school as a museum for the fine arts, natural history, history of education and restoration of works of art
project management
BLP, atelier d’architecture King Kong, LBE Fluides, Bureau Technique du Poitou, Yon Anton-Olano, Zette Cazalas, IC
client: Metropolitan Community of Niort
location: Niort (79)
surface area: 5 000 m²
Cost (VAT included): 8 680 000 €
date: completed in june 2005
images/photos: Arthur Péquin
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