The Brest Museum of Fine Arts will outsource its reserves

Brest Métropole has just formalized the construction of a conservation center to house the reserves of the city’s Museum of Fine Arts. They will be outsourced to a new building which will be erected in the Vern activity zone, near the city center of Brest. The work should start at the end of 2026 or the beginning of 2027 and be completed at the end of 2028. The moving of the works is planned by spring 2029.

The call for projects must be launched later this month for the construction of the new building, which will have a single floor and will extend over 1,500 to 2,000 m². In addition to the reserves, this conservation center will host technical workshops for restoring works, including a carpentry and frame-making space. The site will be able to receive the public occasionally, the objective also being to provide mediation in “showing behind the scenes” as underlined by Yann Guével, vice-president of Brest Métropole in charge of finance.

The building will comply with current standards for the conservation of works, unlike the current reserves. Réza Salami, deputy mayor of Brest in charge of culture, confirms that these “do not meet the safeguarding conditions necessary for the proper conservation of the 15,000 works in the museum’s collections”. Although it was once considered to redevelop the reserves of the current site, the option was quickly ruled out. “The current conservation conditions are such that fungi sometimes appear on the paintings, which is very expensive to restore. Rethinking a real conservation center on the current site involves enormous construction and climatic constraints. We quickly realized that this was not feasible” explains Yann Guével.

“It is a choice for the next fifty years, which will allow room for new acquisitions” welcomes museum director Sophie Lessard, for whom the remoteness of the reserves will not be a problem. “All projects carried out today in museums dissociate reserves from exhibition spaces”.

The budget for the operation is set at nine million euros, which will be financed by Brest Métropole with the support of the State. The community also plans to request funding from the Region and the Department.

Once the outsourcing of reserves is completed, the renovation and expansion of the Museum of Fine Arts can begin. The establishment, destroyed by bombing in 1941, has not been the subject of major work since its reopening in 1968. With the opening of the conservation center, a significant amount of space will be freed up and the museum should thus be able to exhibit three times as many works of art (only 180 to 200 works are currently presented in the rooms). The redesigned museum trail will extend into the old library located just opposite and unoccupied since 2016, which is planned to be rehabilitated. The work, estimated at nearly 30 million euros, will also include the creation of an Architecture and Heritage Interpretation Center (CIAP).

The Brest Museum of Fine Arts is the city’s main art museum. Other institutions celebrate Brest’s heritage, such as the Tanguy Tower (built in the 14th century) and the National Maritime Museum, located in Brest Castle. Contemporary art is highlighted by the Passerelle center, labeled Contemporary Art Center of National Interest (CACIN).

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