Histoires secrètes

High in colour

Gaetano Pesce, Lustres, 1997

Unmissable! Two huge multicoloured soap bubbles welcome you to the museum lobby. But what are these gigantic, exuberant creations doing in a 19th century building? 

The story begins in the 1990s. The two architects leading the renovation of the museum, Ibos and Vitart, find the lobby dreadfully gloomy. They need something new and striking to cheer the place up! And that means lighting...

To contrast with the more classical architecture of the Musée des Beaux-Arts, the architects ask an Italian designer, Gaetano Pesce, to design a contemporary work. When he arrives in the lobby, he sees two large circular openings, called oculi. Since the museum was built, they have funnelled light down from the first floor to the ground floor. Pesce decides that he will hang his creations here.

He designed two colourful chandeliers, which could be nothing less than monumental, because the oculi are seven metres in diameter! And don't be fooled by their ethereal appearance: each one weighs more than three tonnes! And for good reason: they are mainly made from glass. Together, the chandeliers are made up of more than 12,000 coloured glass tiles. It took nearly six months to construct them and hang them on their metal frames.

Conspicuous presences in this old building, these two gigantic contemporary lights have become symbols of the museum. Spectacular, aren't they? 

Histoires secrètes
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