The Musée départemental d'art contemporain de Rochechouart was opened in 1985 in the château de Rochechouart on the initiative of the Haute Vienne département council. It includes a major collection of contemporary art works and offers a range of exhibitions.

histoire du musee d'art contemporain de la Haute-Vienne, château de Rochechouart. Oeuvre de dora garcia

The Musée d'art contemporain de la Haute-Vienne is a department of the Haute-Vienne département council. It is officially recognised as a Musée de France and benefits from the support of the Ministry for Culture - DRAC Nouvelle-Aquitaine. The museum is a member of ICOM and belongs to Réseau Astre, a contemporary art network based in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of France.

Located within the château de Rochechouart, the museum differentiates itself through a permanent dialogue between contemporary creation and historical heritage. From the museum’s early years onwards, permanent works have been commissioned from international artists (Giuseppe Penone, Richard Long).

Linked to the creation of a museum within the château de Rochechouart, three fundamental themes have prevailed in forming the museum collection: history, landscape and imagination. Over the years, the museum has acquired a remarkable collection which today includes more than 300 works by international artists.

The contemporary collection was completed with the development of an exceptional resource library based around Dada artist, Raoul Hausmann. Raoul Hausmann (1886 - 1971) is one of the founders of the Dada movement in Berlin, which completely redefined, during the First World War, both the forms art took and what it aimed to achieve. Raoul Hausmann was a pioneer in collage techniques, one of the inventors of photomontage and an initiator in sound poetry. In 1933 the artist was compelled to flee Nazi Germany. After travelling throughout Europe, he found refuge in the Limousin area of France, where he stayed until his death in 1971.

Around the year 2000, extensive renovation works, led by Jean-François Bodin and Atelier Ardant, enabled the museum management to renew and enlarge the surface area dedicated to museum displays, both for exhibition spaces and educational workshop areas.

Since re-opening in 2001, the museum enjoys more than 1500 m2 of exhibition space, spread over 3 levels, which are characterised by a diversity of architectural styles ranging from traditional “white cube” to historically influenced spaces, such as the Tower with its vaulted concrete ceiling or the great room under the timber framework of the Grenier, or Attic space.

Each year, in parallel to the contemporary collection and Raoul Hausmann Resource Library, the museum organises themed or monographic exhibitions dedicated to the most current contemporary art. Contemporary artists are invited to create specific works, several of which have been incorporated into the collections (Annette Messager and Christian Boltanski (1990), Thierry Kuntzel (1994), Anthony McCall (2007), Eduardo Basualdo (2013).

Each exhibition is supported by a targeted programme to promote it to the public, an important initiative in a rural area and one that was incorporated into the design stages of the museum’s cultural project from the very outset.