Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Musée André Malraux seen within the Signal.

Cultural sites

If you have a look at a map of Le Havre, you will find the cultural route through the city. From the Salacrou Municipal library to the André Malraux Museum (MuMa) by way of the Town Hall Theatre, cultural sites abound in the reconstructed city.

The André Malraux Museum

 

First large museum built in France after WWII, the museum at Le Havre stands out for showing transparence and lightness, which turn it into a modern aesthetic masterpiece.

Set opposite the sea, the building is smooth and transparent, an actual cube made of glass, carried by a metallic structure. It is graced with many paintings by Eugène Boudin, Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, but also Georges Braque and Camille Pissarro, Auguste Renoir or Claude Monet and houses one of the most remarkable collections of Impressionist paintings in France.

The architecture of the place confirms the modernity of its programme as “Museum cum Maison de la Culture”. Inside, radically new ways of displaying art allow a different perspective over the collection of paintings. The flexibility in arranging displays meets the demands of having to program exhibitions, concerts, conferences and shows.

André Malraux, French Minister of Culture, officially inaugurated the place, on June 24th 1961 as a Museum – Maison de la Culture. From 1967 onwards, it was dedicated to art only, then renovated in 1999 by Laurent Beaudouin.

 

The architects

The Museum was designed by four architects – Guy Lagneau, Michel Weill, Jean Dimitrijevic and Raymond Audigier – in close association with four engineers – Bernard Lafaille,and René Sarger (for steel and concrete structures), Jean Prouvé (for use of aluminum), André Salomon(for use of natural and artificial light) – and one artist, Henri-Georges Adam, who was to design the monumental sculpture set in front of the building.

The Signal

Monumental sculpture, ordered from Henri-Georges Adam by the French State in 1956 to be set on the esplanade fronting the Museum, the Signal is an integral part of the identity of the place.

22 metres long, 7 metres high and weighing over 220 tons, the sculpture isolates a fragment of the landscape, draws a concrete frame around it,and underlines the exceptional setting of the building close to the entrance to the harbour.

The Town Hall Theatre

 

The Town Hall houses a 700 seat theatre in its east wing. Finished in 1967, it is a major cultural venue in the city.

After it opened and for the following 15 years, it will serve as the local Maison de la Culture.

Every season from then on,the Maison de la Culture, turned Municipal Theatre, programs many Parisian plays, but also shows by local and regional theatre companies,and musical ensembles. The locals now call it the THV (for Théâtre de l’Hôtel de Ville).

It is also a place where exhibitions are set up. The Carré du THV (THV Square, for the shape of the exhibition area) welcomes exhibitions by new or established artists, as long as they show a creative rapport to the city. Every year, the Carré is an important moment of the festival called “A Graphic Season”. (Une Saison Graphique).

The Armand Salacrou Municipal library

 

Situated to the north of the reconstructed city centre, the Armand Salacrou Library was erected by architects Jacques Lamy and Jacques Tournant. Inaugurated in 1967, it greatly anticipated, in pioneering fashion, the great development of public reading networks in Le Havre at the end of the 1960s. On the outside, its roof is shaped like an open book.

Nowadays, the library has been restructured and a new one created in the Niemeyer Cultural Centre. The library owns collections containing over 90 000 documents, and several exceptional document collections, notably from famous local writers such as Bernardin de Saint-Pierre (1737-1814) or Raymond Queneau (1903-1976).

Slideshow

Musée André Malraux seen from the sea.
André Malraux Art Museum: Outside view.
Façade of the Town Hall Theatre.
Façade of the Armand Salacrou Municipal Library.

For further research

More information about the Armand Salacrou Municipal Library Visit website
Full Programme for the Town Hall Theatre Season Visit website
More Information about the André Malraux Museum (MuMa) Visit website