Published: January 22, 2002
ROUBAIX, FRANCE – The new Museum of Art and Industry, located in the Nord-Pas de Calais region of northern France, opened its doors at the end of October 2001. What makes the opening of particular interest is that the museum is housed in one of the town’s heritage sites, the Art Deco municipal swimming pool built between 1927 and 1932 by the French architect Albert Baert.
A thermal temple of the 1930s, the building was designed based on plans for a Cistercian abbey. The swimming pool was located in a large nave illuminated by stained glass windows, evoking the rising and setting sun. During its heyday, the facility boasted a hairdressing salon, manicurist and pedicurist, an industrial laundry and steam baths. It was decorated with ceramics and mosaics having a marine theme, finely wrought balusters and plant motifs characteristic of the 1930s.
Closed since 1985 for safety reasons, the building has been renovated and converted into a museum by Jean Paul Philippon, one of the architects of the Orsay Museum in Paris. The new museum now houses the city’s extensive Applied Arts collection.
Shower cubicles were converted into display windows and consultation rooms to exhibit textile designs, pieces of furniture, carpets, Sevres ceramics and an extensive textile collection of 8,000 sample books, with more than 50,000 examples of clothing and furnishing fabrics. The Fine Arts collection follows a chronological and thematic route in the wings previously reserved for baths, and is devoted to the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.
The marine motif mosaic around the sides of the pool marks out a new adaptable feature: sculptures, surround-ing a 130-foot-long water feature fed by a sandstone Neptune. The monastery garden has been turned into a botanical garden featuring plants made from textiles. Among the works in the museum is the famous La Petite Chatelaine sculpture by Camille Claudel, created in 1896.
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