The Matisse Museum in Cateau-Cambrésis will reopen in September

The Matisse Departmental Museum has just announced its upcoming reopening, scheduled for September 28, 2024 after an expansion project whose cost is estimated at nearly 12 million euros. Redevelopment and extension work began in September 2022 in the city’s former covered market then in the rest of the site, closed to the public since May 2023.

Founded on the initiative of Henri Matisse (1869-1954) in the small town of Cateau-Cambrésis (7,000 inhabitants) in the North, the museum dedicated to 20th century art brings together one of the most important collections of works of the artist to the world. Visited by 70,000 people per year, it is expanding with a view to exhibiting more works and welcoming more audiences. For Christian Poiret, the president of the Departmental Council of the North, “more than a tribute to Henri Matisse and his origins, this approach carries the ambition of a culture accessible to all Northerners and of a museum with national and international influence”.

The work in progress should be completed in the summer of 2024. Designed by architect Bernard Desmoulin, the 1,000 m² extension will add a third of surface area. This extension is built on the site of the old covered market which adjoins the Palais Fénelon (the 18th century building which houses the museum). The exterior facade of this historic market is preserved while the entire interior is transformed into an exhibition space. The latter is divided into three levels: one dedicated to welcoming school groups, one for the start of the exhibition tour and another for the rest of the tour and the exhibition of drawings and engravings. Four other spaces are also planned to host educational workshops.

This project represents an investment of 11.8 million euros in total. 10.3 million euros are financed by the Department that owns the museum and 1.5 million by the State.

Inaugurated in 1952, the museum was founded from a collection of 82 works by Henri Matisse – including sculptures, paintings, drawings, engravings etc., which the artist bequeathed to his hometown on the condition that a place that can accommodate them. This collection has greatly expanded since then, bringing together 783 works in total. The museum also houses a large collection of the master of abstraction Auguste Herbin (92 works) and an exceptional collection of books and works by the greatest artists of the 20th century such as Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall or Joan Miró, which had belonged to the art publisher Tériade (590 works).

The museum benefited from a very significant renovation in 2002 under the direction of curator Dominique Szymusiak who propelled the museum into one of the most important museums in the region.

According to The North Infothe Matisse Departmental Museum will inaugurate its opening with the exhibition “Matisse: “how I made my books””, which will present the entire collection of fourteen art books that were produced by the artist between 1932 and 1952.

While waiting for the reopening, some of the museum’s works can be admired in China. 280 paintings from the Matisse collection were included in the “Matisse by Matisse” exhibition at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA) in Beijing, which received nearly 210,000 visitors. It is currently presented at the UCCA Edge in Shanghai until February 18, 2024, when the works will return to Le Cateau-Cambrésis. The loan was called into question in 2022 after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia, by the president of the Department, who considered that there were not sufficient guarantees to recover the works due to the links between the China and Russia. Obviously guarantees have been provided.

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