History of the museum
The development of the winter resort at the turn of the 19th century brought many artists who came for treatment or to draw their inspiration from the warm light of Provence and its indented shores. Bormes attracted several renowned painters who participated in the renewal of landscape painting such as Henri-Edmond Cross or Théo Van Rysselberghe for the most famous.
If the artistic emulation that the town has known gives rise to several exhibitions organized since 1912, it was not until 1926 that the first idea of creating a communal museum was found. A large exhibition bringing together the works of renowned artists such as Jean Peské, Henri-Edmond Cross, Théo Van Rysselberghe, and Julio Gonzales was organized.
The success of the exhibition launched the project. The museum was installed in the council room of the town hall and Emmanuel-Charles Bénézit, son of the famous art historian of the same name, was appointed as the representative of the artists and donors. Bénézit, a Borméen by adoption since 1915, is a painter with a rich and diversified palette, and a lover of Mediterranean landscapes. He considerably developed the collection by gathering donations from his artist friends, worked for the preservation and presentation of the graphic arts collection and published the first inventory of the museum. This inventory listed 89 works when he left for Hyères in 1936.
At the end of the 1950s, a real citizen’s impulse was born to protect and enhance the architectural heritage of Bormes. In 1960, the association of the “Friends of the old Bormes”, law 1901, is created. Founded by the painter of Parisian origin, Georges-Henri Pescadère, the association works for the safeguard, preservation, maintenance and legal protection of the ancient monuments and remains located in the commune of Bormes les Mimosas.
On April 20th 1982, the association “Sauvegarde vieux Bormes” succeeded it. In this new structure, amateurs and professionals work together. The restoration of the chapel of Saint-François-de-Paule and the church of Saint-Trophyme is the fruit of the association’s work.
In 1982, Mr. George Henri Pescadère became president of the association “Sauvegarde du vieux Bormes”. In view of his voluntary investment in the heritage of Bormes, the municipality naturally appointed him as curator of the museum. The museum became more professional and a new acquisition policy was launched.
The direction of Georges-Henri Pescadère was marked by a notable increase in the collection. Acquisitions were always oriented towards the visual arts, but they also took on a historical dimension. An inventory, taken in 1985, lists 154 objects.
Sensitive to the good conservation of the collections he was in charge of, the curator was at the initiative of the restoration of numerous works of the museum’s collection, including those acquired from the time of Bénézit.
In 1985, the museum moved to 103 rue Carnot, in one of the oldest buildings in the village. The museum changed its location and also took on a new name. Due to the importance of the Cazin collection, there was some hesitation in naming the museum Jean Charles Cazin in honor of the painter. Finally, the council decided to name it the Arts and History Museum of Bormes les Mimosas.
The museography is completely rethought. It promotes the history and local heritage and still presents the art collection on the second floor.
Once the rehabilitation work was completed, the museum was inaugurated on July 8, 1985.
The years 2000 see the museum open widely to contemporary creation, paying tribute, among others to artists of today, always inspired by this territory. Up to exhibitions are organized every year.
However, the building is deteriorating and can no longer accommodate the public properly or ensure the conservation of its works. Faced with this situation, the municipality organized the architectural and cultural renovation of the building.
In 2020, a new page is written in the life of the Arts and History Museum.
The challenge is ambitious:
- To improve the conditions of conservation and presentation of the collection
- To make the entire building accessible to visitors
- Create new spaces to meet the missions of education and awareness of art and heritage
- Develop the space for the installation of a permanent tour and the programming of temporary exhibitions.
- To imagine a permanent tour route, faithful to the original objective of the museum.
Since 2020, the museum’s teams have been working alongside the Histovery company to create this new and original tour route.
A major research project on the heritage of Bormas has been underway since the beginning of the project. This period of study allowed us to update the work done between the 1960s and 1980s, under the direction of Georges-Henri Pescadère. Conducted under the scientific responsibility of the museum’s director, Laury Mourosque, and Philippe Milioto, heritage officer, this research was an opportunity to question specialists in the periods described in the tour. They gave rise to an exhaustive inventory of the heritage to be found in the commune and to the drafting of complete documentary files.
The scenography and then the design of the 3D reconstructions were based on these resources, which were constantly enriched throughout the project. In total, 15 stations were produced, conceived as a dialogue between artistic, historical or naturalistic collections and new technologies.
The very nature of the project is based on a desire to speak to the multiple audiences present in the town. The notion of accessibility is at the very basis of this unique concept. It is the basis of a new public policy since, in parallel with the HistoPad, the museum offers a new mediation program, set up all year round and aimed at both local and tourist audiences.
The MHAB is thus taking a new place in its environment. It has positioned itself as a major cultural player in the region.