The Musée de Picardie : the Devil Is in the Details

The Musée de Picardie in Amiens
Façade with the "grille d’honneur"
Current State
Photo : Didier Rykner

5/4/13 Heritage - Amiens, Musée de Picardie - We did not receive any direct reaction from the management at the Musée de Picardie to our article concerning its restoration and addition, where we expressed our concern (also shared notably by the Société des Antiquaires de Picardie) about the building’s façade which is listed as a historical monument.

However, it did respond via the Courrier Picard and the remarks are even more disarming than what we were told when we visited Amiens.
In this article published on the 4th april [1], Sabine Cazenave explains that : "Keeping the grilles as they are today represents for some a "no trespassing" sign for the public."
Heavens ! How condescending to imply that the public is not capable of understanding that it can access the museum because there is a grille. Are we to express our amazement at the fact that the Luxembourg Gardens is enjoyed by so many people : it is surrounded by a grille ! Or that visitors to Versailles manage to understand that they can - oh yes - enter the Cour d’honneur, despite the fact it is closed by a grille which does not slide aside ! Quick, let’s get rid of all the grilles around our public monuments (or install sliding devices).

Only irony can counter an argument such as this. But what are we to think of the statement made by Alain David, an elected official in charge of Culture at Amiens Métropole who thinks that the architects have "already made some concessions". Architects who work on a listed building are not there to make "concessions", they are there to respect a structure which is protected by its listing as a historical monument. Sabine Cazenave and Alain David agree in saying that, as concerns the overall project, this is "just a small matter" and these are just "details". We are almost of a same mind : this is indeed not the main issue and since it concerns details for which they cannot provide a legitimate explanation, they should abandon them immediately.

On the contrary, what is in fact unacceptable is the argument which we see looming on the horizon : if the museum renovation - deemed absolutely necessary by everyone, including ourselves - were to be compromised, it would be the fault of those who refuse to accept these changes.
The truth is exactly the opposite : if the supporters of these useless and expensive details which only vandalize the façade, continue to argue stubbornly in their favor, they will be endangering the enactment of an indispensable project. They would do well to give up this "hair splitting" of "details" and start working seriously on an already long overdue task : the restoration, extension and reopening of the Musée de Picardie.

Version française

Didier Rykner, lundi 8 avril 2013


[1] And which in fact does not quote ours.

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