Author(s): Jean Monge
Contributor: Philippe Challes, Architecte Conseil de l’État

Sainte-Croix Museum

Evaluation of the Sainte-Croix museum (1939/1974) in Poitiers by the architect Jean Monge as a landmark in the History of architecture with similar examples.

Jean Monge was born in 1916 in Poitiers and died in 1991. After an engineering degree at the Ecole des Travaux Publics he attends the Ecole des Beaux-Arts with Louis Arretche and Georges Gromort as professors. Lately he participates to the rebuilding of Saint-Malo and becomes in charge of a workshop at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Rennes. In 1959 he passes the Civic Buildings and National Palaces examination. He is names Chief Architect of the Musée de la Marine, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Gustave Moreau museum.

In 1973 he is granted with the Equerre d’Argent, Architecture National Prize for the Law and Literature Faculty Library of Poitiers and enters the Architecture Academy in 1980.

His most important buildings are the Faculty Library of Poitiers and Sainte-Croix museum, difficult programme involving the insertion of a contemporary building within a highly patrimonial site.

The search for the right scale, a physique sense, multiple inventions around forms and matters, are the main elements of his work. It should be remembered that he was one of the first to maintain and valorise archaeological relics within a modern building.

His architectural style reminds us of Carlo Scarpa masterpieces in the museums of Parlermo and Verona where contemporary architecture dialogues with ancient one. In the trend of Reyner Banham he has created in Poitiers a brutalism masterpiece with form purity, opposition of materials, monumentality and interior spatial composition which offers a most open space. This building can be related to other examples that emerge in the same context such as the Prehistory museum in Nemours by Roland Simounet and the Gallo-Roman museum at Fourvière by Bernard Zehrfuss.

Jean Monge’s masterpiece, expressing all his realisations’ qualities, in symbiosis with the architect’s and engineer’s knowledges, the Poitiers museum deserves to be labelled as XXth century heritage example.

Function : Museum