Le Havre – Andre Malraux Museum
The modern art (take the word “modern” lightly) museum of Le Havre, the Andre Malraux museum also known as the MuMa, is France’s 2nd largest museum of impressionist paintings.
The museum was named after the former Minister of Culture, Andre Malraux, who opened the museum in 1961. This museum was the first major museum to be built in France after WWII, and formed part of the rebuilding of Le Havre.
Don’t expect an enormous museum, it’s not. In fact, it’s a pleasant museum, not too big, but big enough to keep you interested for a few hours.
But what’s really nice about the museum is the way natural light illuminates the museum and art. Outside light comes in for all angles, and gives the inside a natural light without shadows, a bit like how professional studio photographers use different flashlights.
The building is located close to the harbour, next to the harbour master’s building and beside one of Perret’s flats (see the top photo). You enter the museum via a bridge, with below you some water and a suntanning terrace (which I presume is for employees, not customers).
Once inside you immediately see the way the architect has played with light. Impressive. I was there during an overcast day, but the light was perfect. After paying a feeble entrance fee (€5 full entrance price), you get to go inside. The museum is on two levels, with a walkway to get you up, but there are elevators (lifts) to get you to all levels.
The collections do change regularly, so no need to talk about what I’ve seen. But they do have permanent paintings, especially painters who lived and painted in Normandy, like Claude Monet, but also famous artists like Renoir, Gauguin, Pissarro, or Matisse.
Upstairs, different exhibits populate the extensive walls.
From the 2nd floor you also have a good view of the ground floor and its art.
Not all paintings are small or medium size. Some are enormous, taking up floor to ceiling space.
On the 3rd floor there is a nice and decent coffee/ tea shop, with a glass wall overlooking the exhibits.
And of course there is a souvenir shop where you can buy reproductions of the art works you have seen in the museum, but in contrast with most museums, you are not forced to walk through the shop to exit the museum. In fact, you need to explicitly search out the shop.