Foster + Partners releases first images of Roman museum

UK architecture giant Foster + Partners has revealed the first images of its museum for Roman artefacts in the city of Narbonne, southern France.

The firm is working with museum designer Adrien Gardere following success in an international competition.

As a former Roman port, Narbonne contains several archaeological sites – the centrepiece of the museum is a collection of more than 1,000 ancient funerary blocks excavated nearby.

The display forms a barrier at the heart of the simple, rectilinear building, separating the public galleries from the more private restoration spaces.

Visitors will be able to glimpse the work of the archaeologists and researchers through its mosaic of stone and light.

The Musée de la Romanitée will sit at the entrance to the city, with  landscaping inspired by formal French gardens and Roman courtyards, and will contain an amphitheatre for open-air displays and events.

Spencer de Grey, senior partner and head of design at Foster + Partners, said:  “We have been inspired by the setting, by Narbonne’s climate and by the city’s fascinating collection of Roman artefacts.

“The gardens will strengthen the connection with the canal and surroundings, and at their heart will be a simple, energy efficient museum building. All of the internal and even some external walls can be rearranged – its flexibility mirrors the live excavation site, a shelter to accommodate the exploration within.”

The building contains galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a multimedia education centre and library, as well as administration, restoration and storage facilities.

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