Revitalized Musée d’arts de Nantes Aims not for Spectacle but for Coherence


Originally published in Metropolis September 2017, and on

The newly reopened museum, one of France’s great art institutions, unites four centuries of architectural history.

“The first thing we did was take the gate away,” says architect Patrick Richard, standing on the Brittany-granite parvis at the entrance to the newly renovated Musée d’arts de Nantes. With this one move, he and his firm Stanton Williams, which was behind the lengthy renovation, dispelled the institution’s long-standing elitist associations. In place of the gate, they erected deep steps for pedestrians to hang out on and survey passersby on the parquet-patterned Rue Georges Clemenceau. “For us the public space doesn’t stop at the door,” says Richard, “it goes right into the inside.”…

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