The Museum of Modern Art in Lille (officially LAM or the Lille Metropolitan Museum for Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art) stands in rolling green parkland in Villeneuve d’Ascq, just outside the center of Lille in the university campus suburb. LAM is an impressive museum, so much so that in 2006 it was officially classified as the 4th Museum of France after Paris’s Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and the Pompidou Center.
The Museum re-opened in September 2010 after 4 years of renovation and the building of a dramatic new extension. The main museum was designed by Roland Simounet, an architect influenced by the American genius Louis Kahn. The extension by French architect Manuelle Gautrand is radical: five extensions of white concrete reach around the eastern end of the original building.
The CollectionsThe first thing you see –- and walk through –- is an impressive sculpture park in which huge works stand out against the leafy background. It’s a great place for a stroll past the monumental art of figures like Pablo Picasso, Alexander Calder, Richard Deacon and Belgian-born Eugene Dodeigne (b.1923).
Modern ArtThe Modern Art section is quite exceptional, a private collection that covers the whole of modern art history from 1900 to mid century. Geneviève and Jean Masurel collected art by the Cubists, the Surrealists, Fauvists and others. The result is that you see works by all the greatest painters, arranged by their particular style: Braque, Bernard Buffet, Andre Derain, Kansinsky, Paul Klee, Leger, Masson, Miro, Picasso and Kees Van Dongen. One room, the Mechanics of Realism, is devoted to Fernand Leger; another to Modgliani which displays his paintings, drawings and sculpture.
HighlightsLa Roche-Guyon by Georges Braque
Nu assis a la chemise (Seated nude with chemise), 1917, by Amedeo Modigliani
Homme nu assis (Seated naked man), 1908-1909 by Pablo Picasso
Contemporary ArtIn this section of 6 rooms, you’ll find French and foreign artists, less well known but just as influential. There are rooms devoted to monographic series by artists like Allan McCollum and Dennis Oppenheim, plus rooms with themes like Found Objects and Lost Objects as well as room devote to single artists like Jean Dubuffet. You go through the main changes in art, the major artistic movements, fashion and current themes in the contemporary art scene.
HighlightsLa Cabane eclatee aux trios peaux (Hut with three skins) by Daniel Buren
Faire des cartes de France, 2000 (Making Maps of France) by Annette Messager
Deploiement aux trois arbres (Deployment with three trees) by Jean Dubuffet
Art Brut or ‘Outsider Art’ was created by Jean Dubuffet in 1945 as ‘works produced by people unscathed by artistic culture’. It’s a recognized artistic phenomenon and LaM in Lille has the biggest public collection in France. In 1995, L’ Aracine, an association of artists and collectors which had built up its Art Brut since 1982, gave it to the museum.
Some of the names are well known; others less so outside France like Henry Darger, Auguste Forestier, Jules Leclercq, Willem Van Genk and more. It’s in the new section of the museum, with around 400 works on display.
It’s very well laid out, so you start at the introduction giving a sense of the size and variety of the donation. The idea is to show how the artists threw convention aside. Room 2 is The Art of Insane, The Door to Freedom, followed by a room of Spiritualism in art and others that take different themes: Dwelling Poetically; Bachelor Apparatus and more.
HighlightsL'Esprit de la pyramide, 1926 (Spirit of the pyramid) by Augustin Lesage
Sans-titre, before 1982 (Untitled) by Josué Virgili
La reine Victoria (Queen Victoria) by Pascal-Désir Maisonneuve
More on the MuseumMajor exhibitions are held throughout the year. There are special young visitors and family sessions throughout the year; guided talks (in English); lectures, concerts, screenings and readings.
There is a good shop, La Boutique du Lam.
The Café-Restaurant L’Art Culin’r is excellent, a destination restaurant in its own right and serving light meals and snacks all day.
Practical Information1 allée du Musée
59650 Villeneuve d’Ascq
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 20 19 68 68
OpenTuesday to Sunday 10am to 6pm
Closed Mondays, January 1st, May 1st, December 25th
AdmissionPermanent Collection: Adult 7 euros
Permanent Collection and Temporary Exhibition: Adult 10 euros
Audio guide: 3 euros
Free the first Sunday of the month.
How to get there
General website directions
The university suburb of Villeneuve s'Ascq is directly east of Lille center. See the online map
By public transport:
From Gare Lille Flandres in central Lille, take Metro line 1 to Pont de Bois, then bus 41 to Parc Urbain-Musee. See the online map