The Origins of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny: the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny.

By Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 1992, the first museum opened its doors in Giverny. It was designed by the architect Philippe Robert, through the Reichen et Robert & Associés agency. Daniel J. Terra, an American businessman and important collector, repatriated works by colonial American painters to the place where they were created. In 2009, the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny made way for the musée des impressionnismes Giverny, whose aim is to make the geographical reach, and the influence of Impressionism, more widely known.

Portrait of Monet (1888/1890) by Theodore RobinsonMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 1883, when Claude Monet decided to settle permanently in Le Pressoir in Giverny, he did not know that his choice would give a global standing to this modest Norman village in the Epte Valley.

Giverny - The Hôtel Baudy by A. LavergneMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

From 1885 to 1915, the village of Giverny attracted more than 350 artists from 18 countries, including the United States, England, Austria, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Belgium, Norway, Spain, Poland, and Russia. Many artists, most of them American, settled there.

Many stayed at the Hotel Baudy, while others rented houses surrounded by gardens. Attracted by the presence of the master of Impressionism, they also chose to work outdoors in plein air. The movement reached its peak at the turn of the century, when Giverny became a true artist colony.

Daniel J. Terra in front of the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny (1992)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 1986, the American businessman and great collector, Daniel J. Terra (1911–96), bought his first property in Giverny.

Overall plan showing planting layout for the site by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

Le Hameau was the first property purchased by Daniel J. Terra. This house is adjacent to Claude Monet's Le Pressoir, and is notably where the American artists Lilla Cabot Perry, Mary Wheeler, and Frederick Carl Frieseke stayed.

Before long, the collector thought about opening a museum in the village to display the many works by American painters created in Giverny that were featured in his collection.

Giverny, near Vernon. Seen from the Hill by A. LavergneMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 1987, Daniel J. Terra bought the parcel of land located in front of Le Hameau, on the hillside, in order to build the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny.

A design drawing showing the garden roofs at the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny (1990) by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

Daniel J. Terra entrusted the design and creation of the museum to the architect Philippe Robert (Reichen et Robert & Associés) who had previously designed the Grande Halle de la Villette, the Pavillon de l'Arsenal in Paris, the head office of Nestlé France, and the Embassy of France in Qatar.

"My meeting with the patron, Daniel J. Terra, and the freedom he granted me, allowed me to carry out this work in the best possible conditions for an architect. In a way, the integration of the museum into the landscape of Giverny illustrates the discretion and elegance of its patron, and his desire to make known the American painters who settled in Giverny at the time of Claude Monet."
Philippe Robert, February 2019

A design drawing showing the garden roofs at the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny (1990) by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

The architectural project enshrined the building in the natural slope of the hillside.

Cross section of the site by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

The semi-buried constructions, spread over several levels, meant that only a small portion of the building was visible.

The Construction of the Musée d'Art Américain Giverny (1991)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

The construction on the future museum began in 1990. In addition to the main building, the project provided for a complete redevelopment of the land, transforming it into a landscaped garden.

The Musée d'Art Américain Giverny (1992)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

The building was completed in 1992, and fits discreetly into its environment, revealing only a few beige limestone walls and terraces planted with heather, extended by beds surrounded by hedges.

A design drawing showing the garden roofs at the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny (1990) by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

"The cover slab of the museum is coated with 19 inches of planted topsoil." Philippe Robert, February 2019

Garden and architecture of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny (2018)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

"The earth provides thermal inertia and effective protection of the multilayer seal." Philippe Robert, February 2019

Next to the building, a meadow visible from the exhibition halls connects the museum with the countryside around it.

Garden and architecture of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny (2018)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

"We worked hard to make our architecture non-existent. The biggest compliment would be if somebody asked us where our work is." Philippe Robert, quoted by Jean-Louis Perrier, "Giverny, cimaises d’Amérique" (Giverny, Picture Rails of America), "Le Monde," April 13, 1991

A drawing showing the natural lighting in the exhibition halls by Reichen et Robert & Associés, architectes - urbanistesMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

Everything is organized around a vast and luminous hall. On the left, there are three showrooms, offset at different levels according to the slope of the ground. A reflective wall returns natural light, diffused consistently, from a slightly sloping ceiling. "The exhibition galleries receive natural lighting without direct sunlight, thanks to the high bay windows that transmit natural light by reflection on a vertical stone surface. In addition, lighting rails allow the installation of specific projectors."
Philippe Robert, February 2019

View of the exhibition halls from the hillMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

Inside the building, a few bay windows facing north open onto the hill and let in natural light.
The architects have established a constant dialog between light, architecture, and the surrounding vegetation.

A drawing explaining the concept and the choice of plants for the museum garden by Florence Robert paysagisteMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

The front garden was designed by landscape gardener, Florence Robert, in consultation with the Reichen and Robert team.

A drawing explaining the concept and the choice of plants for the museum garden by Florence Robert paysagisteMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

It consists of square beds of colors that follow one another symmetrically, evoking an artist's palette, or a large set of watercolors.
The garden was planted in 1990.

Angled view from the west coast, showing the series of fenced gardensMusée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 1991, Judith and Daniel J. Terra commissioned the American landscape architect, Mark Rudkin, famous for redeveloping the gardens of the Royal Palace in Paris. Rudkin retained the long central aisle and the idea of flowery geometric parterres.

Garden of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny (2018)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

Each parterre is separated by hedges with alternating beech and emerald thujas. The space is divided into sections of warm and cold colors. The white garden is followed by blue, yellow, and red sections. Over the years, the garden managers, Didier Brunner and Emmanuel Besnard, have added new elements, including a space for aromatic plants, a bed of roses, and wild flowers and plants on the garden's west side. This more open area, known as the "crazy garden," is a clever transition with a meadow of poppies or millstones, depending on the season. This is visible from the museum galleries and pays tribute to two of the subjects dear to the Impressionists.

Garden and architecture of the musée des impressionnismes Giverny (2018)Musée des impressionnismes Giverny

In 2009, the Musée d’Art Américain Giverny made way for the musée des impressionnismes Giverny. The aim of the museum is to make known the origins, the geographical reach, and the influence of Impressionism.

Credits: Story

We send our warmest thanks to:

Katherine Bourguignon, Flora Boyer, Elizabeth Glassman, Corine Malec Vautier, Catherine Ricciardelli, Philippe Robert, Francesca Rose.

Chicago, Terra Foundation for American Art
https://www.terraamericanart.org/

Reichen et Robert et Associés
https://www.reichen-robert.fr/

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps