Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity – The Role of Strategic Planning in International Collaboration
Jointly organised by France Muséums, the Musée d’Orsay and Louvre Abu Dhabi, the new international exhibition Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity will be held from 12 October 2022 to 5 February 2023 at Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Bringing together over 150 artworks including 130 on loan from the Musée d’Orsay, it focuses on a theme and a period that are central to the latter museum. By creating a dialogue between major painters such as Monet, Manet, Cézanne, Renoir and Degas, the exhibition invites us to explore the work and influences of artists who, from the mid-1850s onwards, opened up new creative pathways closely linked to the social upheavals of their time. Curated by Sylvie Patry, Chief Curator/Deputy Director for Collections and Curatorial Affairs at Musée d’Orsay, and Stéphane Guégan, Scientific Advisor to the President, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie, this exhibition is the result of a unique collaboration both in terms of its specific characteristics, its methodological approach and the collections it brings together. Although most of the artworks come from the Musée d’Orsay, major contributions have been from the collections of Louvre Abu Dhabi as well as costumes from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, engavings from the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and a painting from the Louvre in Paris.
The exhibition once again highlights the strong connections between French museums and Louvre Abu Dhabi, and is a wonderful example of international collaboration between museums. France Muséums is proud to have organised and supported this partnership and brought it to fruition.
ESTABLISHING MUTUAL TRUST FROM THE START
When designing an international exhibition involving several partner museums in different countries, it is vital to create synergy and establish relationships of trust between curators, projects teams and lending museum stakeholders from the earliest stage.
The exhibition Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity presented at Louvre Abu Dhabi from 12 October 2022 to 5 February 2023 has a range of different components in which France Muséums has been directly involved: scientific design, exhibition layout, loan management, transport, catalogue, human and multi-media mediation, signage, on-line content and educational materials. We established synergy across the project, defining expectations and requirements in line with the scientific message and goals and interconnecting the aims of each stakeholder. France Muséums is coordinating the entire operational chain, paying careful attention to what each stakeholder has to say in order to construct a coherent, consensual narrative where the visitor experience is a central concern. The key challenge of this international project was how to group together so many Impressionist masterpieces in a single exhibition. To achieve its goal, the exhibition must allow these artworks to converse with one another in order to improve the visitor’s understanding of its scientific message. The artworks must resonate with each other to create a unique experience that is understandable irrespective of the visitor’s language, knowledge or cultural background.
France Muséums thus acts as a coordinator and translator for the different stakeholders so that their expectations are met and so that everyone can talk to each other, understand each other and embrace viewpoints that sometimes diverge. Thanks to this on-going dialogue and this relationship of trust between the teams at France Muséums, Musée d’Orsay and Louvre Abu Dhabi, everyone can put forward their ideas. Innovative solutions and content emerge from this synergy, for example the mediation immersive experience “Building spontaneity” created specially for the exhibition. This immersive experience focusing on paintings by Caillebotte, Renoir, Cézanne and Monet was jointly designed by Louvre Abu Dhabi teams and curators from the Musée d’Orsay and their teams, in particular the exhibition management team which allowed the works to be digitalised via Google. France Muséums led the production of this immersive tool in the heart of the exhibition space, with the help of the Mardi8 production company.
METICULOUS MUSEUM PROJECT MANAGEMENT
Strategic planning forms part of every step of the construction of an exhibition. France Muséums designs exhibitions as ecosystems organised around artworks able to interconnect a range of different audiences, cultures and geographical areas. The strategic challenge raised by Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity is a significant one. The exhibition is the first to present Impressionism on this scale in this part of the world. Moreover, in addition to the day-to-day project management carried out by France Muséums on exhibitions bringing together several international lending organisations, here we have a unique arrangement making it possible to showcase 130 masterpieces on loan from a single museum. No other exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay has ever featured so many masterpieces from its collection. Because it has agreed to loan a very large part of its Impressionist collection for a single show, the Musée d’Orsay has had to reorganise the presentations in its own permanent galleries. An exceptional project management methodology was designed by the France Muséums team, namely Claire Monneraye, Project Manager | Deputy to the Exhibitions and Publications Director; Flora Roy, Exhibitions Project Manager; Solène Mannant, Temporary Exhibition Officer, Marie Knidler, Artwork Registrar; Aurore Tisserand, Chief Registrar – Permanent Galleries & Acquisitions; Orlane Lefeuvre, Mediation and Programming Officer; Mathilde Etot, Mediation and Learning Programs Manager; Sebastien Cotte, Digital Manager; and Sabrina Mathieu, Museography Project Manager. Working in collaboration with the lending museum and Louvre Abu Dhabi, they constructed this exhibition and organised the shipping of the many priceless artworks.
Thanks to the unique ground-breaking framework agreement between France and the United Arab Emirates, France Muséums is able to mobilise and consolidate a network of trusted partners to create an efficient, agile methodology for projects on this scale. Thanks to fifteen years of experience and the expertise of its teams, France Muséums designs ambitious projects that can be run on a range of different scales and adapted to different complex locations.
Museum project management for international exhibitions of such complexity requires bringing together all the stakeholders. Curators, project managers, exhibition designers, graphic designers, engineers, creatives, consultants and technical teams have to work together to define the backbone and narrative of the exhibition and create meaningful connections between artworks and visitors. Moreover, where a project that involves several stakeholders is concerned, each role finds its equivalent in different institutions, which means it is essential to organise dialogue, set the pace and remain agile in order to create a symbiotic relationship between the different areas of expertise. Last but not least, it’s vital to mobilise international suppliers and service providers from the earliest stages to avoid difficulties relating to shipping, installation methods, the construction of specific exhibition displays or the production of multi-media mediation tools.
France Muséums is also committed to taking full account of economic, social and environmental issues in exhibition project management. At every stage of the design and production of an exhibition, we adapt our methods in order to find sustainable solutions, for example pooled shipping, reusing materials from previous exhibitions and working with local service providers.
The exhibition Impressionism: Pathways to Modernity is an example of an international collaboration requiring the kind of meticulous project management that France Muséums is able to provide. Well-defined strategic planning and constant dialogue between all stakeholders from the inception of the project ensure that there is a relationship of trust between all those involved and lead to the success of international collaborative projects presenting complex challenges.
From design to execution, our team of experts develops bespoke services adapted to the ambitions and challenges of each cultural project while showcasing French museum-related expertise.