At the heart of the Villa des Arènes in Nice, the Matisse Museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of works by Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Resulting from successive donations from both the artist and his heirs, the collection retraces the painter’s artistic career and presents one of his key works, the monumental composition in cut-out gouache paper : “Fleurs et Fruits”.
In 2020, thanks to the support of the Yomiuri Shimbun (Tokyo), the Matisse Museum initiated a vast programme to research, restore and highlight the “Fleurs et Fruits”, which was previously displayed in a showcase dating from the 1990s. Meyvaert was chosen to design, produce and install the new case for the famous painting, which consists of 5 panels of different widths. The result is a monumental, tailor-made set of 4 showcases, of which the main showcase is 9 m long and 4.6 m high.
During the design phase, we collaborated closely in on-site workshops with the different actors involved in the project: the Conservator and conservation scientists, the structural engineers, the mount makers and the museum management, who all helped to ensure that the architectural cohesion of the building was respected and that the specific requirements of the public were met.
The main challenges and solutions were:
The design of the showcase was based on a detailed study of the artwork, so that the glass panes were accurately aligned with the different panels. The main door of the showcase was adapted to the same position and size as the largest panel, to allow the insertion of the others. The large 600 kg panes of glass were brought into the building using glass cranes and custom-made frames. The requirement for anti-reflective glass was solved by using Sentry dividers, which greatly reduced the thickness and weight of each pane of glass.
We also developed a unique suspension system, with each of the 5 panels supported and secured by a rigid frame. This state-of-the-art system solved the issues regarding conservation and the possible distortion of the panels. It also guaranteed their lateral sliding and perfect alignment for an optimal presentation of the work.
Finally, the panels were placed as close as possible to the anti-reflective glass in order to allow visitors to better appreciate the work of art, which is illuminated by external LED lights. Thanks to the combination of all of these skills, this monumental masterpiece from Matisse’s later period has been given a new lease of life.
Four custom-made display cases: 1 monumental wall display case – 9 m x 4.6 m – and 3 table cases
Photos : Succession H. Matisse pour l’œuvre de l’artiste, Ville de Nice