Art and Material, A sculpture gallery dedicated to touch at the Musée Fabre of Montpellier

Tactile Gallery: L'Art et la Matière, galerie de sculptures à toucher, Musée Fabre de Montpellier

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

In the May 2016 newsletter, FRAME announced the launch of an unique exhibition in France L'Art et la Matière, galerie de sculptures à toucher.  Supported by FRAME, this universal project, inclusive and civic is presented from December 10th, 2016 to May 28th, 2017 at the Musée Fabre of Montpellier.


The exhibition opened December 9th, 2016 with Michel Hilaire, Director of the Musée Fabre, Jean-Luc Martinez, President and Director of the Musée de Louvre, Philippe Saurel, President of Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole and Mayor of Montpellier and Pierre Provoyeur, Director FRAME France.

For the opening, Singulier Pluriel, a dance company from Montpellier, staged a choreography in the heart of the gallery to give the visitor a corporal perception of art.

Sculpture seen differently

L'Art et la matière invites the audience to think about sculpture with touch and revisit traditional museum rules.  While this sense was part of the natural understanding of sculpture from antiquity, it was gradually changed in favor of the conservation of works and a visual and intellectual approach to art.

Thanks to technological advances and the expertise of Laure Olives, visually-impaired consultant to the education department, five casts of emblematic masterpieces of the Musée Fabre reproduce the texture and finish of the original works.  In this way, the sculpture is revealed in all its dimension and its smallest details through the palm of the hand of the visitors.

As a privileged place for sensitive experience, the museum aims to enrich the visitor practice in an incarnated mode and for all: young, adult, sighted people, visually impaired people or blind people using one gallery.

"One of our company bethought him of asking our blind man if he would like to have eyes. "If it were not for curiosity," he replied, "I would just as soon have long arms: it seems to me my hands would tell me more of what goes on in the moon than your eyes or your telescopes [...]"

Diderot, Letter on the blind for the use of those who see, 1749. Translated and edited by Margaret Jourdain in "Diderot's Early Philisophical Works", The Open Court Series of Classics of Science and Philosophy, n° 4, Chicago and London, The Open Court Publishing Company, 1916, p.76-77.

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

A first ever partnership with the Musée du Louvre and the Fédération des Aveugles de France - Languedoc-Roussillon

The Musée du Louvre opened the first tactile gallery in France in 1995.  The museum loaned five casts to the exhibition at the Musée Fabre and shared its expertise in this field with Montpellier.

The Fédération des Aveugles de France - Languedoc-Roussillon added its cooperation for the implementation of device for mediation in the exhibition.

The project also benefitted from the expertise of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, which is a FRAME museum during the planning stage.

An Ambitious Gallery organized in 4 Parts

From the awakening of the senses to the acquisition of knowledge, the exhibition is divided into 4 steps:

1. The Introduction "See Differently"

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

2. Space for young public "Touch with your body"

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

3. The "Touchable Sculpture Gallery" - For an out of the ordinary discovery of sculpture from Antiquity to the 19th Century

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

4. Multi-Sensory space "The Sculpture Studio" to immerse yourself in the history and technique of sculpture

© Musée Fabre de MMM, cliché Frédéric Jaulmes

A 50 page booklet* is available to accompany the teachers, students and the public in the exhibition.

Sophie Calle
On the occasion of the exhibition L'Art et la matière, photographs of the artist Sophie Calle coming from the series Les Aveugles (The Blinds) (1986) are presented in the heart of the permanent collection and resonate with the works of the museum.

After Montpellier
The concept of L'Art et la matière is a perennial and open project.  It is destined to circulate in other museums in the FRAME network, to be enriched with other casts in adaptability of the approaches of different sites hosting the tactile gallery.

More information please visit the musée Fabre's website.

Tactile Gallery: L'Art et la Matière, galerie de sculptures à toucher (Art and Material, a Scuplture gallery dedicated to Touch)

At the Musée Fabre of Montpellier

Michel Hilaire, Chief Curator and Director of the Musée Fabre
Pierre Stépanoff, Curator of Old Masters Paintings and Sculptures
Céline Peyre, Head of the Public Education Department

*Exhibition booklet L'Art et la matière. Des sculptures à toucher, Canopé éditions, 47 p. [French edition]

1) A tactile gallery in a museum. Why?
2) The benefits of touch
3) Visiting with tact!
4) Words for touching
5) The tactile gallery  at the musée du Louvre
6) The techniques for molding
7) Inventing a tactile mediation
Portfolio and Education Paths
8) Introduction 
9) Marble
10) Terracotta
11) Plaster
12) Bronze