In 1969, the Minister of Culture, André Malraux, decided to construct a museum to preserve the Biblical Message following its donation to the State. The construction began in 1970 on a large plot of land donated by the City of Nice, where a dilapidated villa from the early century stood.
Chagall followed the project with interest: it was he who requested that an auditorium be included as part of the planned rooms. He also wanted to enrich the building by adding stained glass windows to the auditorium and a mosaic, which led to modifications in the museum's circulation axes.
In 1973, the artist himself was present for the inauguration of Marc Chagall national Museum of the Biblical Message , alongside André Malraux and the Minister of Culture at the time, Maurice Druon.
Until his death in 1985, Marc Chagall accompanied the early years of the institution. He was present at exhibition inaugurations and, thanks to his friendly relationships, initiated a prestigious concert program.
After Chagall's death, the museum benefited from the deposit of a significant portion of the estate (a procedure that allows payment of inheritance taxes with artworks). The Chagall estate included over 300 works. New acquisitions gradually enriched the collections, and with the support of the artist's heirs, the museum became a fully-fledged monographic institution, bearing witness to both the spirituality of Chagall's work and its place within the artistic movements of the 20th century.
In 2000, the museum was awarded the label "Heritage of the 20th Century," which has since been renamed as the "Remarkable Contemporary Architecture" label. For more information
In 2006-2007, a significant renovation campaign was carried out to modernize the technical aspects of the museum without altering its appearance. A reception building (the rotunda) was created in the garden to accommodate the substantial increase in visitor traffic (rising from 30,000 visitors in the opening year to nearly 200,000 today). Larger offices and storage areas were also established in the first basement level.
In 2008, the museum changed its name to Marc Chagall national Museum.
View of the Biblical Message room, showcasing the paintings by Marc Chagall (from left to right): "Paradise" (1961), "Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise" (1960), and "Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law" (1960-1966). Nice, Marc Chagall national Museum . © Photo: Nice, National Museums of the 20th Century of Alpes-Maritimes / Gilles Ehrentrant © ADAGP, Paris, 2023.