The Cantonal Museum of Fine Art
A new face
The mcb-a was founded in 1841 by painter and patron Marc-Louis Arlaud. Since 1906 it has been located in the Palais de Rumine, a building constructed thanks to another patron, Gabriel de Rumine. Since 1924, the mcb-a’s successive directors have regularly stated that there is not enough space, and this situation has recently become critical, as has the conservation situation. These issues, particularly those relating to current standards of conservation, display and cultural mediation, will be resolved in way that is different from the usual solution of building extensions. The mcb-a is benefitting from a special opportunity to move into a whole new building, allowing it to make a fresh start on new foundations, giving it a new lease on life after more than 150 years of existence. Thus the mcb-a will enjoy a rare privilege: the opportunity to forge a new identity and gain a new level of visibility, while integrating its collections, its history and its nationally and internationally recognised expertise.
The museum currently showcases its collections of old and contemporary art through monographic and thematic exhibitions, as well as by lending works to museums in Switzerland and abroad. In 2019, the mcb-a will be able to base its activity on a philosophy of openness: openness to the world and openness to everyone. It will be a place of exchanges and meetings between art forms from all eras, between the past and future, between cultures here and elsewhere, between visitors from all generations and geographic origins, between specialists and the curious, between the worlds of work and leisure. The presentation of the collections will strengthen the museum’s national and international influence, by being open to the world, showing what cannot be seen anywhere else. Works by the great Vaudois artists and works acquired by collectors will gain increased visibility and a renewed aura.
The mcb-a’s future building is divided into two parts located on either side of a large reception hall that preserves the historical memory of the central nave, an emblem of the old railway hall that occupied the site from 1911 to 2016. Designed by Barcelona-based architectural firm Barozzi/Veiga, the exhibition spaces are distributed over the two upper floors, one for the permanent exhibition and the other for temporary exhibitions. Two particular spaces will be used for an unconventional programme directed at various members of the public. A project space on the ground floor linked to the temporary exhibitions will serve as an experimental laboratory that is in step with current trends, open to local and international artists. The programme, often event-driven, could be delegated to guest curators as a means of establishing exchange networks. An information space linked to the permanent exhibitions will make it possible to more quickly circulate reports on new acquisitions, restorations and recent research on works and artists. The service areas — containing the restaurant, library, boutique, etc. — will be located on the ground floor, while the reserves and technical facilities will be in the basement.
The building’s northern facade, which gives onto the esplanade, is embellished with bricks and interspersed with vertical strips. These elements, which will provide control over light, provide the many openings that punctuate that wall, providing many unusual perspectives and possibilities for exchange between the museum and the plaza. At night in this new district, these openings will create a distinctive play of light that resonates with the illuminated rift in the building that houses the mudac and the Musée de l’Elysée.
The building, which is distinctive while also paying tribute to the site’s industrial past, was designed with a view to meeting the needs of a museum of contemporary fine art. Control over climate, hygrometry, light and security are some of the conditions necessary for the production of retrospectives on major artists, or thematic exhibitions that include exceptional works. In its new building, the mcb-a will take advantage of these elements so that everyone can make amazing discoveries and constantly experience new artistic emotions.
The Cantonal Museum of Fine Art (mcb-a)
Year founded: 1841
Director: Bernard Fibicher
Collections: More than 10,000 works and five major collections:
Abraham-Louis-Rodolphe Ducros (1748 – 1810), Charles Gleyre (1806 – 1874), Théophile-Alexandre Steinlen (1859 – 1923), Félix Vallotton (1865 – 1925),
Louis Soutter (1871 – 1942)
Focus: From the 18th century to Post-Impressionism; spotlights on Cubism and Vaudois Abstraction