Created at the end of the 19th century by Thomas Dobrée, a wealthy collector from Nantes, the museum was intended to serve as his residence and exhibition space. Upon his death in 1895, the entire building and its collections were bequeathed to the Loire-Atlantique department. The museum was then urbanized during the 20th century through city beautification projects, allowing the creation of a new district around the historic Place Graslin.
Today, this collector's museum traces 500,000 years of history through a selection of works from the 135,000 objects in the collection.
The restoration and restructuring of a heritage site
The Dobrée Museum project reconciles the architectural ambition of a 21st century museum while respecting the existing built heritage. Respectful of its history, the project reveals the singular identity of the site, organizes and facilitates circulation in its urban environment, offering a museum on a human scale.
The new buildings are designed to respect the image and organization of the historic site. Acting as a common thread and in deep respect for the buildings, oxidized steel is the only material used to signify the new interventions: the canopy that identifies the reception area, the "louvered" volume leaning against the manor house and the ramp of the square.
The restructuring of the buildings is characterized by the restoration of the 4 buildings that make up the Dobrée Museum: the Dobrée Palace (late 19th century), the Jean Manor (15th century), the Ferré building (1970) and the Gardener's House built simultaneously with the Palace. It is planned to repair the roofs in tiles, nailed slates, copper and stones identical to the existing ones on the Palace and the Manor. The roofs will be removed and restored according to the same model and respecting the details of the implementation.
The envelope of the buildings will also be restored thanks to a cleaning of the stones, works of repointing with lime and specific repairs. All of this is designed to preserve the stigma of the Second World War (bullet marks and shrapnel) and to maintain the collective memory.
Inside the buildings, the wood or metal joinery will be restored if necessary or replaced identically, while improving the thermal and security of the premises. All the elements that characterize the museum (stained glass windows, wrought iron gates...) will be preserved, as far as possible.
The work also includes the creation of a reception area open to the city. In the basement, the Ferré building will be enlarged to provide access to the Palais Dobrée and Manoir Jean V buildings. The new safety standards for access also require the creation of elevators and pathways accessible to all.
Outside, an Anglo-Norman garden will be created, designed for several uses: walking, games and rest. The objective is to place the museum firmly and clearly in its environment with a high-quality museum and urban garden.
The renovation and restructuring project is organized in different phases, corresponding to the 4 buildings that make up the museum:
- Phase 1: Voltaire Building where the reception, administration and educational center are located
- Phase 2: Jean V Manor on 400 m² which will host temporary exhibitions
- Phase 3: Palais Dobrée (2,000 m²) to house the permanent exhibitions and the Maison du Jardinier
Launched in October 2021, the Dobrée Museum construction site is currently in full swing. The deconstruction phases are coming to an end while the structural work is underway in the new and historic parts. The first scaffolding has been erected to begin the restoration of the facades.
The next steps are :
- the reinforcement and installation of the metal frames in the Voltaire buildings (new and old) and the Palais ;
- the renovation of the roofs and woodwork ;
- and the replacement of the heritage windows.
The opening of the new domain to the public is planned for the end of 2023.
General contractor: Bouygues Bâtiment Grand Ouest
Architect : Atelier Novembre
Heritage architect : Philippe Donjerkovic
Scenographer: Studio Adeline Rispal