Colmar – Unterlinden Museum extension by Herzog & deMeuron
Owner: Ville de Colmar
Herzog & de Meuron France SARL
Atelier d'architecture Richard Duplat
For image credits, see captions
Plan view – Herzog & de Meuron, © Herzog & de Meuron
Colmar | Unterlinden Museum extension by Herzog & de Meuron
In Colmar, the famous Alsatian historical center, the extended and renovated Unterlinden Museum, the most prestigious cultural venue of the city, was opened to the public on January 23, 2016, in the presence of the President of France François Hollande.
In 2009, Herzog & de Meuron architects were selected to design the new museum and its expansion, after an international architectural competition organized by the Colmar municipality.
The entrance of the Unterlinden museum site, © Herzog & de Meuron
An expansion to the old museum, taking up the main building and the cloister of 13th century former Dominican Monastery, became necessary to provide more room for the exhibition galleries and storage spaces, as well as to create up-to-date services to the public.
Furthermore, in the last decades, the museum, mostly renowned for its Middle-ages to German Renaissance artworks, had substantially enlarged its modern art collection – including works by Jean Dubuffet, Nicolas de Staël and Pablo Picasso, among others – which therefore was requiring a larger exhibition space.
The expansion was made possible by incorporating into the museum complex a disused Public Baths building, dating to the early 20th century, located in front of the museum’s main venue.
Rendered views of the Old public bath, day view (left); night view (right) © Herzog & de Meuron
Photo of the renowned Old public baths, © Herzog & de Meuron
The new project comprises two building blocks, which border a new plaza, composed by the medieval cloister of the monastery on one side and a complex, formed by the Public Baths building and a brand new wing, on the opposite one.
The two blocks are connected by an underground tunnel, which also accommodates an additional exhibition gallery; between them, a “tiny house”, resembling the small building that once marked the monastery entrance, announces the presence of the museum to the visitors.
Herzog & de Meuron, © Herzog & de Meuron
1) Old Dominican monastery of Unterlinden
Entrance hall, educational hall, shop, Archeology, Fine art, folk art, decorative art
“Martin Schongauer” hall, Hall of the Issenheim altarpiece (old church)
2) “Public baths”: hall for conferences, events, meetings, and café
3) New wing: modern art collections and temporary exhibitions
4) Sculpture garden
5) Underground gallery: Museum history and artworks from 19th to early 20th century
6) “Tiny house”
But the project by Herzog & de Meuron goes beyond the expansion of the Unterlinden museum; it actually redesigns a large portion of Colmar’s historical center with a series of interventions aimed at recreating the original urban structure of the city, such as the reopening of the Sinn canal, which constitutes the “axis of symmetry” around which the two areas that form the “new” Unterlinden are organized.
Rendered view of the Unterlinden plaza, © Herzog & de Meuron
Photo of the new Unterlinden plaza, © Herzog & de Meuron
Rendered view of the Unterlinden plaza with the tiny house, © Herzog & de Meuron
Photo of the Unterlinden plaza with the tiny house, © Herzog & de Meuron
The sculpture garden, Herzog & de Meuron, © Herzog & de Meuron
The floor area of the museum is more than doubled and now amounts to over 8,000 square meters (86,000 square feet). Along with a more rational arrangement of the permanent galleries, the renovation also provided new cutting-edge temporary exhibition spaces, both in the new wing and in the “public baths” building.
Exhibition hall, new wing. Herzog & de Meuron, © Herzog & de Meuron.
The new museum entrance, Herzog & de Meuron, © Herzog & de Meuron
Rendered views and photos of the Hall of the Issenheim altarpiece (left) and the “Petite maison” (right), © Herzog & de Meuron
On the occasion of the grand opening of the museum, a special exhibition entitled “Agir. Contempler”, curated by Jean-François Chevrier in collaboration with Herzog & de Meuron, has inaugurated the new special exhibition gallery.
Furthermore, the famous Isenheim altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald and Nicolas de Haguenau, perhaps the hallmark of the Unterlinden museum, has been relocated and is now prominently displayed in the middle of the church hall of the former Dominican convent.
Interior views of the new Unterlinden Museum Colmar, photos © Herzog & de Meuron
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