Long in the works, the renovation project for the Agen municipal museum has just reached a decisive stage. In recent weeks, an imposing scaffolding has surrounded the Hôtel d’Estrades. Renovation work on the Agen Museum of Fine Arts has finally begun and should be completed in 2028.
Housed in four private mansions built in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance and subsequently connected, the museum suffers from numerous structural and functional problems. The emergency lies in the conditions of conservation of the works, which are today at risk due to the dilapidation of the building, explains the museum to the Journal des Arts. According to curator Adrien Enfedaque, “when it rains, the museum takes on water”. In fact, the building’s roof has not been renovated since the 1930s and its deterioration has accelerated over the last twenty years.
Faced with this situation, the authority decided to carry out a complete restoration, as well as a modernization of the museum. However, classified as a historic monument, its architecture will not be modified. This work has been long awaited since the former mayor of Agen, Paul Chollet (1989 to 2001) and his municipality had already considered a renovation project.
The work will begin with the renovation of the roof, following a schedule per building. The Hôtel d’Estrades will be renovated from September 2023 to July 2024, followed by the Hôtel de Vaurs (2024-2025), the Hôtel de Vergès (2025-2026) and finally the Hôtel de Monlac (2026-September 2027). ).
In addition to the exterior restoration which aims to guarantee functional protection, other work is planned to improve the visitor route and facilitate access for people with reduced mobility. A new public reception area – the entrance to which will be located rue Chaudordy – will be created, while the scenography will be completely redesigned. In fact, the design dates back to 1976 and the tour route is disjointed. The work will also allow the creation of “real offices” for museum staff.
The objective of this renovation is to attract more than 20,000 visitors and make it an economic lever for the city, specifies the Agen museum. “The museum can go beyond its 20,000 annual visitors”he insists. “We realized this with the Goya exhibition organized at the Jacobins in 2019, which attracted no less than 30,000 visitors in four months. »
The museum will be closed “from the end of 2024 and probably for three years, although we do not yet have a precise date”. This will allow the museum to carry out a large inventory in order to improve its knowledge of the collections. While only 3,500 works are on display, some of which are of national importance, such as the paintings of Goya or the Venus of Mas-Agenais, 100,000 others are sleeping in reserves.
The total cost of the operation amounts to approximately 15 million euros, financed by the State, the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, the Departmental Council of Lot-et-Garonne and the City of Agen. The City of Paris is also strongly committed to this project, since the Agen museum is included in the State-Region planning contract, due to its privileged links with the Louvre museum which has loaned works to the Musée des fine arts of Agen. Four candidates for project management are in competition, and we will know, in January 2024, the selected project.