Director of the Musée des beaux-arts (MBA) and the Musée d’art contemporain (MAC) in Lyon, Sylvie Ramond, 62, takes stock of the challenges that await the exhibition venues after eighteen months of Covid-19 epidemic.
Will the health crisis leave traces in museums?
It is still too early to tell. Since this summer, we have seen very good attendance figures in Lyon, better than those before the crisis. In 2019, 25% of our visitors came from abroad (United States, Italy, United Kingdom, etc.). They are only 8%. But they have been replaced by a regional and national audience. People have been frustrated with culture during these months of closure and deprivation, they are eager to come back to the museum.
Is this burst lasting? You don’t visit your city’s museum every month …
I dare to believe that we have aroused a desire. The importance and the diversity of our program, the exhibitions, the hangings, the nocturnes, the thematic weekends, the workshops… constitute a dynamic offer, which allows us to retain a local public but also to attract new national visitors. . Today, a Fine Arts Museum should be managed much like a theater or an auditorium. It is necessary to show that the permanent collections are alive, to carry out acquisitions which will make you want to come back. There is a living spectacle side.
Is the race to frequent major museums tenable?
Already, before the crisis, we were asking ourselves the question of an alternative model. The productivist system on which we live has had the consequence of saturating the offer of exhibitions in the regions as in Paris, in a purely event-driven logic. The crisis due to Covid-19 has shown how fragile our institutions are, in their economic model but also in the idea of permanence that underlies them. One of the challenges ahead for us, I am convinced, is to consolidate this permanence.
Are we heading towards the end of “blockbuster” exhibitions?
Without giving up planning national and international exhibitions, we are working on exhibition projects designed from our collections. We have already organized two on this model: “Thinking in shapes and colors” at the MBA (December 2019-January 2020) and “Like a scent of adventure” at the MAC (October 2020-July 2021). A third exhibition, “To death, to life! Vanities of yesterday and today ”, will be offered from November 2021 to May 2022. These projects allow us to renew the look at the permanent collections by developing transversal themes, from Antiquity to contemporary creation. These exhibitions were very well received by the local public.
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Sylvie Ramond, director of the Musée des beaux-arts in Lyon: “The crisis due to Covid-19 has shown how fragile our institutions are”