In Autumn 2009, Stanton Williams won an international competition to transform the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nantes, one of the six largest Fine Art Museums outside Paris. It will be known upon completion as the Musée d’arts de Nantes. The creation of this urban quarter incorporates several key extension buildings that will link the existing 19th Century quadrangle ‘Palais’ of the museum and the 17th Century Oratory Chapel on the adjacent site, which operates as a temporary art installation space. The Chapel will be accessed directly from the main part of the museum for the first time.
The existing historical museum building will be comprehensively renovated, whilst the new extension will accommodate the additional exhibition spaces for contemporary art. The project will also include the creation of new educational facilities, an auditorium, a library, a storage space for graphic arts collection and an external sculpture court.
Reflecting the local architecture, moreover, the new extension will also blend into its surrounding area. Envisaged as a monolithic volume, a consistent palette of materials will create an impression that the whole building is carved out of a single block of stone. In line with the concept of unravelling a closed museum, the entire south elevation of the new extension will be glazed with the translucent laminated marble, referencing the time when alabaster and marble were frequently used before glass to draw in natural light into Medieval churches while protecting precious artworks from the natural elements.
The new urban quarter will ultimately help to redefine the image of Musée d’arts de Nantes, which is still firmly rooted in its surroundings but is now open to new possibilities.