The three national museums of the 20th century in the Alpes-Maritimes, Marc Chagall in Nice, Fernand Léger in Biot, Pablo Picasso, La Guerre et la Paix in Vallauris, grouped together in a national department*, present an exceptional collection of works that allow visitors to discover three great artists of the 20th century, attracted by the light and artistic environment of the Côte d'Azur.
Museums with a monographic vocation, constituted by donation to the State, they offer visitors privileged spaces for contemplation and knowledge of the works.
The collections are regularly enriched by exhibitions highlighting the creative force and topicality of these three masters of modern art.
Missions of the national museums
As a service of national competence*, under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture, the mission of the National Museums of the 20th Century in the Alpes-Maritimes is to :
- to conserve, protect, restore on behalf of the State and present to the public the works of art in the collections listed in the inventory in its care
- to contribute to the enrichment of the national collections by acquiring cultural property on behalf of the State, whether in return for payment or free of charge
- to ensure the reception of the widest possible public, to develop the use of the collections, to promote knowledge of their collections, to conceive and implement educational and dissemination actions aimed at ensuring equal access to culture for all
- ensure the scientific study of its collections
- to contribute to education, training and research in the field of art history, archaeology and museography
- to preserve, manage and develop the buildings with which they are endowed.
The Pablo Picasso National Museum Collection
In 1952, in his studio at Fournas in Vallauris, Pablo Picasso produced a painting - War and Peace - of very large dimensions. Although it deals with a subject directly related to the post-war period and the numerous international calls for peace in the world, this work has an undeniably allegorical dimension. Preceded by some 300 preparatory drawings made in the preceding months, it required numerous isorel panels that were erected vertically on a specially designed wooden structure.
La Guerre et la Paix was installed in the chapel in 1954, and then donated by the artist to the State (but it remains in situ), by a letter dated 26 September 1956.
On 6 November 1957, the City of Vallauris transferred to the State the lease it held on the chapel, which became the Pablo Picasso National Museum, La Guerre et la Paix. The latter was officially inaugurated on September 19th 1959.
Before the official inauguration, the chapel was only partially open to the public, mainly for security reasons. The Four Parts of the World, a fresco painted at the back of the chapel, was completed in 1958 and installed in 1959, a few days before the official inauguration. In 1971, the City acquired the site to set up the municipal museum and in 1975 handed over the chapel and its annexes to the State.
A contemporary cultural programme
Since the early 2000s, the National 20th Century Museums of the Alpes-Maritimes have placed contemporary creation at the heart of their artistic and cultural project, working on the points of encounter and extension between the three tutelary and emblematic figures of the artistic avant-garde, Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Fernand Léger (1881-1955) and Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), and the artists of the 21st century.
Regular exhibitions have shown major artists on the international contemporary scene at the Pablo Picasso National Museum, such as the visual artist Alicia Framis (2014), the photographer Mathieu Pernot (2015), the painter Damien Deroubaix (2016), the artist duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige (2018), the sculptor and performer Myriam Mihindou (2018) or the multidisciplinary artist Mounira Al Solh (2020).
*Service with national competence :
A service with national competence, or SCN, is a particular category of administrative service, which could be situated halfway between the central administration and the deconcentrated administration. It carries out operational missions throughout the national territory: management functions, technical or training studies, and activities for the production of goods or the provision of services. The SCN were established in 1997. Together with the central administrations and the deconcentrated services, the services with national competence constitute one of the three main modes of organisation of the State civil administration.
Visuel: musée national Pablo Picasso, façade de la chapelle de l'ancien château-prieuré, à Vallauris. Photo: © musées nationaux du XXe siècle des Alpes-Maritimes/Gilles Ehrentrant © ADAGP, Paris, 2021.