Jewel of Renaissance masterpieces, including the famous Isenheim altarpiece, the new museum Unterlinden Colmar , expanded and modernized after two years of impressive works, was inaugurated Saturday by President Francois Hollande.
Housed in a former Dominican convent since its founding in 1853, the institution grew from 4500-7900 square meters, is expected to attract 350,000 visitors annually -against 200,000 before- which rank among the museums of Fine Arts busiest Province.
“new” Museum opened its doors to the public from 9 December. But it’s this Saturday he will be officially opened by the Head of State, accompanied by the Minister of Culture Fleur Pellerin.
Director of the institution, Pantxika De Paepe agrees that, before transformation, the old museum “was a bit closed in on himself and on his absolute masterpiece” and known worldwide, the Isenheim Altarpiece, a set of carved linden panels by Nicolas de Haguenau and painted by Matthias Grünewald between 1512 and 1516.
The famous altarpiece relocated during construction with infinite precautions in a nearby church, has regained its usual place in October, in the chapel of the former convent.
“With time, the building was showing signs of aging . He had lost part of its history. The renovation gives meaning to the building “ said Richard Duplat, chief architect of historical monuments.
After encrypted jobs to 47 million euros, the new Unterlinden is “now rebalanced between its various collections” , ensures its director.
The majestic and sober architecture, the Swiss firm signed Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog , is based on a modern building – connected to the former by an underground gallery which includes former municipal baths 1906. However, it clearly reveals traces of the past: an old chapel and now houses temporary exhibitions.
“The design was simple and discreet wanted to showcase the works. We took a party opposed to the exuberance of design” , says Jean-François Chevrier, designer of the new museum which ensures only have “not want to erase the heterogeneity of collections, on the contrary” .
So, beyond the art of the Middle Ages or renaissance and collections of archeology, Unterlinden also contains masterpieces of modern art (Soulages, Dubuffet, Poliakoff …), formerly relegated intermittently in the reserves of the museum and now well developed in the new wing of the building.
We discover such an impressive tapestry of nearly seven meters long, made in 1976 after the famous Picasso’s Guernica. Only two other copies exist in the world, one of which adorns the wall of the hall of the UN Security Council in New York
International stars of architecture -. They got in 2001 the Pritzker Prize, a sort of Nobel discipline -, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron have also joined the museographer Jacques Chevrier to design the first temporary exhibition at Unterlinden – until June 20 There they questioned the relationship between “contemplation” and “action” in the art
Photos: © AFP / File SEBASTIEN BOZON