The Musée Soulages is a prestigious exhibition and cultural centre in Rodez, France. Designed by Catalan architects RCR in partnership with Passelac & Roques, the museum is named after the town’s renowned son, Pierre Soulages, a leading figure of abstract art and one of the most celebrated French artists working today. The museum is a showcase for Soulages’s work, and plays host to national and international touring exhibitions. Its debut exhibition, featuring Soulages’s Outrenoir paintings, attracted some 12,000 visitors in the first week alone.

Optimising the storage areas
Amandine Meunier. head of collections, joined the museum in September 2012 and was put in control of fitting out the archive areas. When Amandine arrived, the spaces for archiving had already been defined but work had not begun on the fittings. Two spaces for storage works were planned:

  • Archive for paintings
  • Archive for prints

“For the paintings, metal racks were the best solution in terms of practicality and space. The store originally earmarked for prints was not optimized. It was necessary to provide increased space for the collections. In museums, reserves are often full to capacity. So I imagined a storage system that combined plan chests and high bays to exploit the available volume.

As a client, Amandine had explicit requirements: “For painting archives, I had very specific demands in terms of spacing and technical requirements, such as ground rails to guide the gates and avoid vibrations. I wanted 45cm spacing to allow access for restocking and I also wanted enough space, with all the racking extended, to allow staff to clean.”

For the storage of prints, Amandine completely revised the specifications to include a storage system including plans chests, drawers for larger items and shelving racks to accommodate archive boxes.

The Solution
Bruynzeel proposed a range of museum storage solutions, including:

  • Plan chests
  • Fixed painting racks,
  • ArteStore Penda mobile picture racking

Sysco shelving equipped with telescopic shelves and metal wire separators
This complete system storage allowed the museum to meet the requirements for the preservation of works, reducing vibrations, protecting artworks from dust and optimising the available space in the storage areas.

“I had a very clear idea of what I wanted. Bruynzeel understood my needs and came back to me very quickly with plans and we could start production quickly,” said Amandine. “The installation was then fast and fluid.”

Amandine was impressed with the level of service she received from Bruynzeel. During installation, for example, Bruynzeel technicians found a loading problem on the tailor-made supports for the shelving. “We miscalculated the load distribution,” explained Amandine. “Bruynzeel responded immediately and came up with a solution quickly.”