La Panacée is now part of the MoCo, a unique multisite institution dedicated to Contemporary Art. The MoCo also includes the National Art School, L’Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (ESBA) and The Montcalm Hotel (3500 m2 near the city station, currently under restoration and due to open in June 2019).
Open to local initiatives, popular and innovative, the MoCo - Montpellier Contemporary strengthens the natural cultural attractiveness of Montpellier, making this Mediterranean city a stronghold of contemporary art and a cultural destination par excellence. Vanessa Bruno, stylist, and entrepreneur is its President. Nicolas Bourriaud, art critic, co-founder of the Palais de Tokyo and former Director of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Paris, is the director.
The Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole Contemporary Art Center will incorporate several sites and this from the start. The MoCo’s objective is synergy: both exhibition venues will benefit from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts’ vibrant atmosphere, while the art school’s students can make the most of the richness and variety that La Panacée’s and the Montcalm Hotel’s programme will have to offer.
Alternately the Royal College of Physicians, School of Pharmacy, National Institute of Health, La Panacée reflects the city’s medical history. Marked by experimentation and research, study and knowledge, La Panacée is steeped in collective imagination through the passage of transformative figures such as Rabelais.
As a result of an architectural competition to renovate the building, in 2007, the City entrusted the project management to the architect Jean-Luc Lauriol and the scenographer Henri Rouvière. In June 2011, the City itself took charge of the project management and undertook the project’s second phase, primarily the development of the ground floor level, open to the general public. The scenographer Franck Fortecoëff was then included in the project development and finalized amongst other things the auditorium and the galleries.
Seen from the outside, as an urban island, with a perimeter of 220 meters and structured around a central patio, La Panacée is an architectural palimpsest, ranging from as far back as the twelfth century right up to the nineteen-fifties. Some old sections of the building were actually rediscovered during its renovation.
In the final project, the emphasis was put on the patio, considered as the fundamental structure of the building. Every part of the building’s functions, the spaces, the galleries and circulation flow is organized around this central quadrangle.
The cloisters, surrounding the patio are now inside the building. These inside galleries lead to all the building’s spaces and facilities which are open to the general public: exhibition halls, educational room, auditorium, café.
Large volume-spaces were cleared creating bright and open exhibition halls. An auditorium was recreated in the former amphitheater.
A white façade was erected, prolonging the patio walls, marking the continuity between the art center and the halls of residence that are managed by the CROUS on the first floor. The different functions of the center are part of the unity of the project that makes La Panacée a place for art and a place to live.
THE MONTCALM HOTEL
The Montcalm Hotel is an early 19th-century townhouse built in the heart of the city, at walking distance from the train station, the Place de la Comédie, the pedestrian zone, and the city center car parks. It is now owned by Montpellier Méditerranée Métropole.
Louis Joseph de Montcalm (1712-1759) is best known for his feats of arms in Canada. His grandson Louis Marie André Dieudonné, also a cavalry officer, would not be remembered if it weren’t for the fact that he had a townhouse built, in Rue Joffre, later known as the Hotel du Quartier General.
Louis M. de Montcalm belonged to a powerful Protestant family, originally from Rouergue.
He inherited the family fortune, passed down from generation to generation by the part of his family who had stayed faithful to the Protestant religion. The property he coveted represented, in 1809, some 14 hectares in the suburbs of Lattes; it belonged to the Serres de Mesples whose property extended and covered all the Cordeliers area, established for centuries in the south of the city. He bought it in 1816 - the rue de la Republic had not yet been created- and built a few years later, a house that he ornately furnished, enriched with wall decorations, and endowed with a picture gallery, which was said to have been greatly admired by connoisseurs.
Louis M. de Montcalm lived there for thirty years; he sold it on the 8th of September, 1853, to the Ministry of Defense, fully furnished (so they say), with a part of the garden. The general, who commanded the 16th Division moved in on the 13th of September, 1853 and thus, for 150 years, the building belonged to the army. The army occupied the premises up until recently, when it finally became, along with its park which opens out onto the rue de la République, the property of Montpellier City.
If the furniture and the gallery have changed hands in whole or in part, some mural paintings remained and can testify for the vogue of exoticism occurring after the “return from Egypt”, for the family’s military history, and for the aesthetic refinement so specific of the early 19th century.
The Park Montcalm now bears the name of Emmanuel Roblès (1914-1995): a writer, who was, with A. Camus, one of the main representatives of French literature in Algeria, discovered and published by Edmond Charlot (Algiers, 1915 - Pézenas, 2004).
A project to create the Museum of the History of France in Algeria (1830-1962) was approved by the City Council of Montpellier in 2003 and was transferred on 1 January 2006 to Montpellier-Agglomération, following the transfer of the cultural and sports sector. Since 2014, the new project to create a Museum of Contemporary Art has been approved and the center is due to open in June 2019. La Panacée is now part of the MoCo, a unique multisite institution consecrated to Contemporary Art. The MoCo also includes the National Art School, L’Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Montpellier (ESBA) and the Hôtel de Montcalm (3500 m2 near the city station, currently under restoration and due to open in June 2019).