Marc Chagall, Nice
The Musée National Marc Chagall is located in Nice, on the French Riviera. Inaugurated in 1973, in the presence of Marc Chagall who actively participated in its design, this was the first national museum devoted to a living artist and it is a complete work of art.
Initially entitled the Musée National Message Biblique Marc Chagall, the museum was built to house the Biblical Message Cycle, painted between 1956 and 1966. Seventeen vast paintings on canvas, illustrating episodes from the Bible—Genesis, Exodus, and the Song of Songs—are housed there along with an extraordinary collection comprising all of the preparatory works for the paintings: sketches, pastels, gouaches, engravings, and copper plates for the Bible (1931). The collection was donated to France in the form of gifts from Marc and Valentina Chagall in 1966 and 1972.
In 2008, the museum changed its name to Musée National Marc Chagall to assert its mission to bring to light this grand artist’s full body of work. Today, the collection is made up of nearly 1000 pieces covering all techniques used by the artist: painting, drawing, engraving, lithography, ceramics, and sculpture. It is continuing to grow thanks to an active acquisitions policy encompassing both purchases and numerous donations. The museum has also enjoyed prestigious loans from the Musée National d’Art Moderne.
The building was designed by architect André Hermant (1908-1978), who once worked alongside Auguste Perret and Le Corbusier. Nestled in a garden planted with Mediterranean species, dreamed up by Henri Fisch, the modernist setting is very understated, designed to showcase the extraordinary colors of the paintings. For the museum, Marc Chagall also created three monumental works of art in situ: the mosaic of the Prophet Elijah, the stained glass window of the Creation of the World, and the Mediterranean Countryside Gobelins tapestry.
An auditorium for concerts and a library have been an integral part of the project since its inception, expressing the artist’s deep interest for knowledge and music
In keeping with his intentions, the space is imbued with the spiritual and intimate atmosphere of a house. The tour is designed like a poetic journey through Marc Chagall’s world, deploying itself in the full spectrum of registers ranging from the stern to the joyful, like an ode to color.
Since its beginnings, the Musée National Marc Chagall has developed an active and dynamic schedule of cultural events serving all audiences, which has made it the most-visited museum in the Alpes-Maritimes département. It displays a wealth of exhibits exploring the life and works of the artist, all while providing significant space for contemporary art. Each season, a prestigious program of music, conferences, and dance performances is scheduled in the auditorium. The documentation center receives many researchers and students.
As an establishment of the Ministry of Culture, the museum is one of the national museums of the twentieth century in Alpes-Maritimes. Other museums in the network include the Musée National Fernand Léger in Biot, and the Musée National Pablo Picasso, War and Peace, in Vallauris.
The Friends of Marc Chagall Association provides the museum with support for many projects.