La Boverie - Liège's new Fine Arts Museum

La Boverie in Liège, Belgium | Photo: Marc Verpoorten

Last week I had the privilege to attend the grand opening of La Boverie, Liège's new museum of modern and contemporary art. The museum celebrated its opening with its inaugural exhibition "En Plein Air" and new eye-catching architecture.

Beautifully situated on an island formed by the Meuse and its Derivation canal, La Boverie museum is part of a complex comprising a historic palace, built in 1905 for the World Fair (Exposition universelle et internationale de Liège), and a modern wing. Renowned French architect Rudy Ricciotti and local architecture firm p.HD (Paul Hautecler & Pascal Dumont) were commissioned by the city of Liège to renovate the building. To give it a modern twist and to renew the landscape of Park the la Boverie, a concrete and glass extension was installed on the west façade of the building, occupying an additional 4,000 square metres.

La Boverie received a new modern wing, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, where sunlight plays an important role | Photo: Nino de Snoo

Rudy Ricciotti
Rudy Ricciotti, winner of the National Grand Prix of architecture in 2006, became famous thanks to the design of several museum projects such as the Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille. MuCEM was constructed as part of «Marseille, European Capital of Culture» and has become one of the main assets of the Mediterranean city. Ricciotti also designed the département des Arts de l'Islam (department of islamic Art) at the Louvre.

"En Plein Air" is La Boverie's first temporary expo | Photo: Nino de Snoo

On the ground-floor level of the museum one can find the temporary collections. The museum kicked off with "En Plein Air"(meaning: in the open air), a large-scale Impressionism exhibition, organised in partnership with the Louvre in Paris. The theme of the opening exhibition was chosen to illustrate the strong link between the museum and its surrounding park.

The exhibition outlines the emergence and gradual development of painting in the open air, from the 18th century to today, a practice that exactly coincided with the rise and the staging of new delights typical of the modern world: walking, leisure and vacation. The exhibition presents around a hundred works by famous artists such as Corot, Boudin, Monet, Chagall, Evenepoel, Pissaro, Cezanne, Picasso, Bonnard and Renoir. The works come from the collections of La Boverie, the Louvre, but also from Belgian and foreign prestigious art institutions.

Marc Chagall, Bella et Ida à Peyra-Cava, 1931 | Huile sur toile, Collection Particulière | Photo: Nino de Snoo

Claude Monet , Le Pont-Neuf, 1871 | Huile sur toile, Dallas Museum of Art | Photo: Nino de Snoo

The permanent collections can be found on the lower level. It hosts the very best from the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts of Liège (BAL), featuring works by Lambert Lombard, Gerard deLairesse, Ingres, Gauguin, Picasso, Evenepoel, Delvaux, Magritte and others. The museum also added a special gallery on the lower level: the 'black gallery'. A setting for works on paper, which are particularly sensitive to light, humidity and dust.

"En Plein Air" runs until 15 August 2016. In 2017, the "Journey to Italy" will be the theme of the second exhibition. Tickets range from 8 to 12 €.

La Boverie is easy to reach by the Guillemins Boverie Footbridge (also known as 'La Belle Liégeoise') and lies only 700m from the Liège-Guillemins Station