Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Museum of Prehistory, Le Grand Pressigny

We've had a friend staying with us over the last 10 days and consequently have been motivated to catch up with visits to places we really should have visited long ago.

In 2009 the new Museum of Prehistory building was opened in the grounds of the Chateau of Le Grand Pressigny. The collection of prehistoric objects had been housed in the chateau and we had visited it in its old incarnation back in 2006.

The new building was widely reviled. Many people didn't understand why the new wing of the museum was unashamedly modern and not a pastiche designed to 'blend in', 'tastefully' and 'discreetly'.

We've always liked the new building, noting its clever use of matching new lines with old, but at the same time ensuring no one is deceived into thinking new build is old.

Now we've seen the interior we are even more impressed. The architect has borrowed the landscape at every opportunity, and the space is airy and light. The collection has been displayed in a way that enhances understanding of global context and sequence as well as highlighting how important the many local finds have been. There are study and activity spaces that look great for engaging kids, and we took a guided tour of the temporary exhibition Bêtes à Tout Faire (All Purpose Animals). The guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic and we were impressed (and learned stuff).

7 comments:

  1. As "Un Amis de la Musée du Grand Pressigny"...
    I am glad that you like it...
    the new layout is good, very good...
    the structure of the new building links the old sections very well...
    the displays are wonderful...
    especially the timeline and the flint-knapping video of blade making...
    living archeology!!
    And talking of living archeology...
    take time to visit on the Patrimoine days...
    there is always some good flint-knapping, spear throwing and fire-making demos!!

    The only bit I didn't like was the bright, turquoise-green bache that the builders left...
    instead of roofing it properly...
    no wonder it leaked and had to close again...
    immediately after the opening ceremony!!
    You can see it for miles...
    it detracts from the wonderful new architecture...
    and the old towers.
    One of these days they'll take the plastic off and we'll see the real roof....
    oh?
    That is the real roof!??!

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  2. I went to LGP with Ken before... I'm not sure the after is to my liking. It looks too much like those ugly German blockhaus in Normandy. A little more transitional would have been appealing. This being said, the interior looks tremendous. If I weren't so old I'd love to see it. Tempus...

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  3. The inside is very nice but like CHM, the outside reminds me of a bunker.
    After reading the series of books "Earth's children" I am always interested to find more about our ancestors.

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  4. bonjour, pour ce batiment il y a un contenu et un conteant .

    a l'extérieur cela ressemble a un blokaus et je me demande demande comment ou par quel moyen les batiments de france ont accepter ce projet .
    ceci dit le cotenu est absolument remarquable ...

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  5. I suspect that when the original building was constructed people didn't like it because it looked too much like a defensive military structure...

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  6. Tim: I assume the turquoise roof is intended to look like verdigris on copper. It's a bit flat colourwise, but I've never had a big problem with it. There is a tradition that the buildings of great architects leak, so maybe that's what the architect here was aiming for...

    chm: 'Transitional' usually means 'pastiche'. Much better to be uncompromisingly modern so there is no confusion about what is old and what is new.

    William: BdF would never have approved a lookalike, pretend medieval building. The best practice today is to do the best possible modern building.

    The photo does show a building with a resemblance to a defensive blockhouse. It also shows a building with narrow vertical openings -- another a defensive feature in the old building. All no doubt a nod to the original building's past. Seen from the courtyard or looking back in the opposite direction you can see how well the architect has matched his building's lines and angles with the old building.

    When the building first appeared one of the most common complaints was how white it was against the old stone. Anyone who liked the building just pointed out that the building would mellow, and it has.

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  7. The roof! Ah yes, you cannot have a blue, blue green pool because you are near a monument. So what do the contrary French do? Put a swimming pool coloured roof on an ancient building!

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