The city of Colmar, France is undertaking the expansion of The Unterlinden Museum with the annexation of an Art Nouveau building that once housed the city’s municipal baths. The 1906 building stands just meters away from the current museum. Its addition will bring the current museum to an area of 8,000 square meters, which will allow works that are currently stored in the museum’s vaults to be displayed to the public. The design team is led by Herzog & de Meuron and is scheduled for completion in September, 2013. Read on for more after the break.
The Unterlinden Museum enjoys considerable prestige for its collection and historic significance. The museum dates back to 1852 and was established by a private organization: the Société Schongauer, founded in 1847. In addition, the building in which the collection is housed is a thirteenth century convent that was classified as a “Monument historique” in 1852, which gives it heritage protection by the French state. The museum welcomes 200,000 visitors a year, second only to the Musée Fabre in Montpellier. It houses historic and celebrated masterpieces that range from paintings to decorative art objects, folk art, traditional art, modern art and archaeological artifacts that date from the twelfth to sixteenth centuries.
The expansion project will encompass the annexation of the new building, a construction of a modern building and the refurbishment and redesign of the current museum premises. The chapel and cloisters which house pre-18th century collections will be renewed. The public baths, which will house the 19th century collection, will be renovated. And, the new extension will serve as a connection between the buildings. The program of the museum will expand with the new facilities, allowing it to transform into a new modernized version of the notion of a museum.
This will include education and an initiative to increase art appreciation among its visitors. Through advanced technologies, information and communication systems, the museum will also be a more interactive experience for its visitors, reaching a wider audience than its current program and design.
For its vast collection and range of art holdings, it is part of France’s Contrat de Projets Etat-Region 2007–2013, a seven-year planning agreement between the French state and the Alsace region, as a cultural initiative to expand the galleries and exhibition spaces of this museum. The city of Colmar is the main financial backer of the project, with additional monies from private sponsors. The total cost of the project, before taxes, amounts to €24.5 million.
The museum will be part of a larger initiative by the city to contribute to its role as a hub of regional tourism and culture. Colmar hopes that the new facility will drive urban regeneration, economic development and social cohesion, as cultural hubs tend to do.
Architect: Herzog & de Meuron, Basel, Switzerland Location: Colmar, France Project Name: Extension musée d’Unterlinden Address: Place des Unterlinden, Colmar, France Competition: September 2013 Client: City of Colmar, France Site Area: 7,900 sqm Cost of the operation: €24.5 million, before taxes Total surface area: 7,900 square meters Expected attendance: 500,000 visitors each year Cultural budget allocation by the City of Colmar: 16%