Le Magasin: how to reinvent a pioneering art center?

After having experienced long years of problems -staff strikes, resignations and multiple conflicts with the last directors-, the contemporary art center of Grenoble, one of the first to be created in France, reopened its doors last Friday, under the leadership of its new director, Céline Kopp.

The store has come a long way. After living through successive government crises that led to the dismissal of the former director Béatrice Josse and the resignation of almost the entire team in the spring of 2021, he had been without direction for almost a year. When Céline Kopp received the keys to the place in February 2022, she opened up to a building in poor condition, without viable conditions to house works and the public. ” When I arrived, the teams had been absent for months and there were 6 of us. I wrote a cultural and artistic project with a strong vision, but also a pragmatic program with one goal: to reopen as soon as possible. “explains the new director in her forties, previously in charge at the Triangle – Asterides in Marseille. To do this, she addressed the essential issue of the physical remodeling of the Store. Built by Gustave Eiffel to house the “engine room” during the Universal Exposition of 1900, its 3000 m industrial warehousetwoAlways planned to move to Grenoble, it inherently possesses a reinventive quality – much sought after by contemporary architects and the zeitgeist – as it was designed to be dismantled and reassembled elsewhere, and able to adapt to change.

Connect past and future

When it was created in 1986, the Store responded to the great cultural project of François Mitterrand: it was conceived as the prototype of the Center national d’art contemporain (CNAC). It was necessary to integrate this history, while aligning it with the present. The institution, practices and customs have changed. What remains, and what I want to put back at the heart of the project, is the presence of the artists. “, details Céline Kopp about the new spatial conception of the industrial wasteland. To the three historical exhibition spaces – a large exhibition hall and a smaller experimental hall, installed on the lateral sides, and the “street”, this central open space illuminated by natural light under the high ceilings of 22 m glass roof high – now the “small bocal” is added, a multifunctional space (games, exhibition…) for children, a workshop room for organizing residences and workshops, and a new reception-cafeteria-bookstore. With a view to the reinsertion of artists, Céline Kopp summoned three architecture, graphic design and design studios for reconversion. For the rearrangement of spaces…

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