"This is a pivotal moment for our city, as it marks the beginning of a new era for this site with a rich and long history." It is with these words full of solemnity that the mayor of Reims, Arnaud Robinet (Horizons), welcomed the laying of the first stone of the restoration of the Museum of Fine Arts. Reims, twelfth city in France strongly oriented towards tourism, has been deprived, since September 2019, of this museum located in the city center, in the abbey Saint-Denis, rich in a collection of 20,000 works.
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As soon as he was elected head of the city, in 2014, Arnaud Robinet had abrogated the project of his predecessor, Adeline Hazan (Socialist Party), who had imagined the construction of a new establishment, in the Boulingrin district, with an opening scheduled for 2019. The new mayor had cited budgetary reasons, preferring to give priority to the projects of aqualudic complex and large event hall, respectively inaugurated in 2021 and 2022. The health crisis now over, place to the restoration of the museum therefore. The first shovels are expected in July.
The mayor of Reims, Arnaud Robinet, and the Portuguese architect Francisco Aires Mateus, lay the foundation stone of the renovation of the Museum of Fine Arts, this Monday, May 22, 2023.
For the Portuguese architect Francisco Aires Mateus, who came especially from Lisbon for this ceremony, "this is an exceptional project that reconstructs the historical plan of the abbey and reconnects with the city. We will redesign the old cloisters of the abbey in a unique and clearly contemporary gesture, but the different buildings will be preserved in almost their entirety."
A threefold increase in exhibition area
In order to triple the museum's exhibition area, the work will be colossal: archaeological excavation, dismantling of the roof to create new spaces under the eaves, development in the basement of 1,000 m² to create an auditorium, a temporary exhibition room and a documentation room, installation of a staircase covered with gold leaf in the main courtyard, Construction of a shop and a café on the garden side...
For this pharaonic project, the city has planned a budget of 65 million euros (TTC), which must receive the support of the Grand Est (11.25 million euros) and the State (6.2 million euros). This is 9 million euros more than the estimate of 2019, but inflation has gone through that... The municipality promises that, at the end of 2025, visitors will once again be able to admire the paintings of the Grand Siècle, the Art Deco collection or the Leonard Foujita collection. The famous Franco-Japanese painter will even benefit from a dedicated room.