The innovative design for a new museum dedicated to the Bayeux Tapestry, set within a 17th-century seminary in northern France, marks a significant addition to the cultural landscape. This project, valued at €38m, emerged as the winner in a competitive design process last spring. It introduces a modern architectural element to the Bayeux site, thoughtfully integrated with the existing historical fabric of the location.

This design strategy is rooted in the preservation, restoration, and subtle enhancement of the seminary’s architectural heritage, avoiding any attempt to revert the building to a supposed original state. The nuanced approach fosters a seamless interaction between the historical and the new constructions, enabling a dynamic conversation across time—linking the past, present, and future through innovative spatial design.

Museum extension — Image: RSHP

With a total area of 8,000 square meters, of which 3,350 square meters are dedicated to new construction, the project ambitiously seeks to redefine the visitor experience. At the heart of the exhibition concept is the aim to enrich interactions with the nearly thousand-year-old tapestry, which narrates the Norman Conquest of England. By offering diverse viewpoints and lighting conditions, the design intends to deepen engagement with the 70-meter-long historical piece.

The museum’s architectural and spatial planning is envisioned as a journey, mirroring a pilgrimage, aimed at enhancing the connection between the visitor and the tapestry, thereby bringing its historical tales to life. The comprehensive layout includes exhibition spaces, visitor amenities such as cloakrooms, educational facilities for school groups, a study room, an auditorium, and areas for temporary exhibitions.

An intriguing addition to the museum’s collection is a 19th-century full-size replica of the tapestry, previously owned by the late Charlie Watts of the Rolling Stones. This inclusion enriches the tapestry’s already vast cultural and historical narrative.

Exhibition design. Image by Atelier Brückner

The project, led by RSHP in collaboration with heritage specialist Lympia Architecture and landscape architect Bassinet Turquin Paysage, along with Atelier Brückner for exhibition design, graphics, and signage, reflects a deep commitment to both preserving and innovating within the museum field. Scheduled for completion in 2027, to coincide with the 1,000th anniversary of William the Conqueror’s birth, this endeavor stands as a testament to the enduring link between cultural heritage and contemporary architectural expression.

For museum professionals, this initiative showcases a forward-thinking approach to the integration of modern design within historic contexts, offering insights into enhancing visitor engagement and narrative preservation within a modern museum environment.

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