After “citizen consultations” launched in the spring of 2022, which approved a renovation and extension of the museum located in the heart of the village, Carole Delga, president of the Occitanie Region, announced on Tuesday July 18 that the future Museum of Prehistory of Tautavel (Pyrénées-Orientales) would be built on a plot adjoining the current museum.
The project involves the construction of a new building of 2,600 m², on two levels, which will house “one of the most important collections of prehistoric objects in Europe”. To access it, a large esplanade and steps will be set up in place of the old cooperative cellar which will be demolished, ceded by the winegrowers and located 25 meters below. The current site, with an area of 4,500 m², will be dedicated to conservation, reserves and administration, after the transfer of the collection to the new building.
The museum, which has experienced a sharp drop in attendance in recent years, well before the Covid, will also modernize its very dated museographic route, by offering new educational activities to make the Tautavel museum a “more interactive, modern and informative museum”. The museum hopes to welcome more than 200,000 visitors per year.
A committee of financiers and a board of directors will meet in the fall, under the chairmanship of the State, to advance the prefiguration study. The architect and project management competitions will be launched once the museum’s program has been finalized, before the end of the year. The first phase of work should start in 2026, with an opening scheduled for 2028. The cost of the renovation is estimated at 30 million euros, financed under the State-Region plan contract, of which 20 million euros will be divided between the Region and the Department of Pyrénées-Orientales.
The Museum of Prehistory of Tautavel – European center for prehistoric research – was inaugurated in 1978. It is devoted to European prehistory and the discoveries made on the archaeological site of Caune de l’Arago, where a rare 450,000-year-old bone was found: the man of Tautavel.