Along with a small group of French journalists I recently had the unique experience of a behind-the-scenes exclusive look at the ongoing expansion work of La Piscine Museum, site of a former municipal swimming pool in an Art Deco building on the outskirts of the northern city of Lille.
Located in the town of Roubaix – a ten-minute train ride from Lille or just 2 hours from Paris – the early 20th century public swimming pool was transformed into an astonishing art exhibition space and is now readying for its re-opening this fall. The museum is a surprising discovery in this region and a well-worth-it detour, housing an impressive collection of 19th and 20th century art.
Originally the municipal swimming pool of Roubaix it was inaugurated in 1932 and closed in 1985 before being transformed into a museum in 2001. The permanent collection, part of which is exposed around the reconfigured Art Deco basin, notably houses works of Albert Marquet, Kees Van Dongen, Raoul Dufy and François Morellet. The museum has also successively honored Pablo Picasso (2004), Marc Chagall (2007 and 2012), Edgar Degas (2010) and Camille Claudel (2014) with temporary exhibitions.
Since its opening the museum has been enriched with donations and purchases. As more and more people found out about it, the number of visitors has begun to exceed the expected 50,000 to 60,000 visitors per year.
The 7.75 million euros expansion project is funded by the city of Roubaix, the Hauts-de-France region, Lille’s European metropolis, the state and private sponsorship.
Now, after two years of work, the museum is currently scheduled to re-open October 20, 2018 and will open with 5 new exhibitions including Picasso’s Man with a Sheep.
La Piscine Museum
23 rue de l’Espérance 59100 Roubaix
Architect: Jean-Paul Philippon
Curator / Conservateur: Bruno Gaudichon
Barbara Pasquet James is a U.S. lifestyle editor, speaker, and urban explorer who writes about food fashion and culture, from Paris. She is known for helping launch, write and edit USA Today’s City Guide To Paris and can be contacted via her photo blog FocusOnParis.com