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The Iconic Bayeux Tapestry in France to Get New Home

by Ron Bernthal

Apr 19, 2024

© Bayeux Museum

Daily

Under the direction of the Town of Bayeux, France, in close collaboration with the French government, the Normandy Region and the Department of Calvados, the project to move the famous 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry to a new space has been approved.

Bayeux

© Atelier Brückner GmBH

British architecture firm RSHP, which won the design competition, will follow a strict schedule with the project’s partners in order to complete the opening of the new Bayeux Tapestry Museum extension in 2027, a year that marks the millennium of the birth of William the Conqueror. The original Tapestry Museum, formed in 1983, was hosted in Bayeux’s Grand Seminary and both will be closed to the public after the 2025 fall season, with the museum’s extension construction and tapestry reconditioning taking place throughout 2026.

While the new museum is being constructed, the historic Bayeux Tapestry, built in the 1070s and telling the story of the conquest of England in the 11th century by William, Duke of Normandy, will be kept in a storage area specifically designed for its conservation. The removal of the tapestry from its current display case in Bayeux’s Grand Seminary, adjacent to the museum’s new extension, will be carried out in close collaboration with the services of the French State, owner of the artwork, in order to ensure the preservation of one of the most precious heritage objects of the 11th century, classified as a Historic Monument and listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World register.

tapestry

© RHSP

The new Bayeux Tapestry Museum will be in the heart of the city, combining ancient and contemporary artifacts in two large architectural spaces. Within this 118,400-square-foot urban area, a new extension to house the Bayeux Tapestry will be built next to the current 17th-century Grand Seminary, home to the tapestry for the past 40 years and continued host until the end of fall 2025.

“This cultural and historical lung had to remain close to the Bayeux Cathedral, to continue to unravel the thread of its history and to meet the challenges of our tourism strategies,” said Loïc Jamin, Bayeux Deputy Mayor in charge of Museums, Tourism and the Promotion of Bayeux’s Heritage.

© RHSP

The new museum extension will house the Bayeux Tapestry, displayed on an inclined support more than 229 feet long, to meet the conservation requirements of this extremely fragile textile. It will also be conserved in a hermetically sealed room that will protect it from variations in light, climate and atmospheric pollution. A window along the length of this controlled conservation area will serve as a showcase for the public. The support on which the work is presented will allow visitors to deeply appreciate the size of the work.

The Bayeux Tapestry will be at the heart of the museum’s exhibition space, which will double in size with the new building. Thanks to the construction of the two levels, visitors will be able to discover the embroidery from different angles and backgrounds, supported by extensive displays.

© RHSP

Many visitors who view the Bayeux Tapestry for the first time say it is a major lifetime experience, but with the new, revitalized viewing space to be unveiled in 2027, the “first look” is  intended to be a visual shock for visitors as they gradually discover the work overlooking the exhibition gallery via a 180-degree view. And as they move toward the beginning of the Bayeux Tapestry, equipped with the audio guide, viewers will enjoy a special educational and psychological relationship with the amazing, embroidered canvas known as the Bayeux Tapestry.

 

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