9. Museums and collections



Can a museum exhibit an art environment?

It is very exceptional, but some museums/collections were able to move an installation (such as Avezard's Manège) or a large part of an art environment (such as Bindler's Musée de la Doller) to their premises.

However, most art environments are so fully tied to their particular location, that most museums/collections that want to pay attention to art environments, have to restrict themselves to adding just some single pieces to their collection. Or present a series of photographs.

This page lists museums/collections in Europe that in one way or another pay attention to art environments by adding larger or smaller parts of these creations to their collection.

La Fabuloserie, Dicy, France (1983)

This museum, opened in 1983, is a private enterprise which was realised and maintained by Alain de Bourbonnais (1925-1988) and his wife Caroline de Bourbonnais (1924-2014).

Alain studied at the École des Beaux Arts in Paris He became an architect with commissions in the public domain (theaters, stations). Privately he was quite interested in the works of unknown french self-taught artists and in the 1950's and 60's he collected many of their works, which he presented in his own art gallery in Paris, Atelier Jacob, opened 1972. 

De Bourbonnais only learned about Jean Dubuffet when he read a newspaper about the latter's plan to transfer his collection of art brut works to Lausanne. The two met and became friends, sharing their information about artists.

From 1972 untill 1982 the Atelier Jacob was the only place in Paris where the public could see art brut, but since Dubuffet wanted to keep this designation for his own collection, de Bourbonnais' collection was designated as art hors les normes.

De Bourbonnais owned a country house, some hundred kilometers south-east of Paris, where he also had an atelier where he made his own fantastic creations.

In 1982 he and his wife decided to close the Atelier Jacob and transfer all artworks to the countryhouse in Dicy, which would as La Fabuloserie be opened to the public in 1983.

After Alain de Bourbonnais died in 1988, Caroline took on directing the Fabuloserie, which she continued untill her death in 2014. Currently the museum is directed by the two daughters Sophie and Agnes de Bourbonnais.

Creators of art environments in the collection: Pierre Avezard

With regard to art environments the greatest achievement of La Fabuloserie is the transferral of Pierre Avezard's large installation Le Manège from its location in Fay-aux-Loges to the premises of La Fabuloserie.
photo by Jessica Straus
 Avezard (1909-1992) in 1985 could no longer care for his creation and the installation was at the risk of getting lost. With Avezard's agreement a group of volunteers in the late 1980's carefully dismantled the Manège and rebuilded it on the grounds of La Fabuloserie, where it was inaugurated in august 1989 and currently still can be seen in full swing.

Also in the collection

Apart from Avezard the collection includes items (mainly sculptures) from sites that no longer exist, such as those made by François Portrat (1884-1976), Camille Vidal (1894-1977), Jules Damloup (1898-1985) and Jean-Pierre Schetz (1921-1986).

The collection also includes some sculptures that were especially created for the museum: two sculptures made by Charles Pecqueur (1908-1990) depicting Alain and Caroline as fairy tale characters and another special one, a sculpture by Finnish self-taught sculptor Alpo Koivumäki (b. 1939), made in situ as artist in residence.

More information about La Fabuloserie plus a lot of pictures on Andrzej Kwasiborski's weblog Znalezienie

Horácké Museu, Nova Mesto na Moravé, Czech Republic
(incorporation of Vincent Navratil's installation, 1986)

In the 1940's Vincent Navratil from Vir in the Czech Republic, a handyman in a local textile factory, constructed an installation with movable two-dimensional wooden characters, showing scenes from daily life, like carpenters and blacksmiths at work, dancers, people drinking, trapeze artists and so on.

The machinery could be set in motion by a paddle wheel in the creek flowing nearby.
photo by Horácké Museum
Begun modestly, the installation grew and in the 1970's it counted some 70 characters.

Vincent's grandson in 1986 donated the installation to the Horácké Museum in Nové Mesto na Moravé. This museum, opened in 1892, pays attention to regional history, folk culture, textiles, the glass industry and so on.

After renovation, Navratil's installation was exhibited in the museum's garden. It has become one of the museum's main attractions.

l'Ecomusée de l'Alsace, Ungersheim, France
(incorporation of André Bindler's art environment, 1991/92)

This open-air museum, located in Ungersheim and opened in 1984, aims to present the cultural heritage of the region, in terms of its various authentic buildings, its former industrial activities and the way people lived and worked (costumes, festivities and so on). In 1991 Marc Grodwohl, who then was the director of the museum, by chance came into contact with André Bindler.

Bindler (1922-2011) after working during forty years in the textile industry, around 1980 began transforming his house and garden into an art environment, making sculptures of animals and famous persons, replica's of well-known parisian buildings and of numerous houses and chapels in Alsace. an activity he continued untill 1989.

His Musée de la Doller gradually would have fallen into disrepair, if not the Ecomusée's director had proposed him to transfer Bindler's creations to the museum and expose them there in a setting that would be as similar as possible to the original one.
photo by Marc Grodwohl
So it happened, and within some six months the move took place, after which the volunteers of the museum, advised by Bindler, needed a number of years to restore the various items.

More information about the transferral in an elaborate article on the website of Marc Grodwhohl

Musée-jardin de la Luna Rossa, Caen, France (1992)

This open air museum, which opened in 1992 on the initiative of Olivier Thiébaut, like the Fabuloserie, is a private enterprise that displays creations, mainly sculptures, from art environments in western and northern France, both sites that have been demolished or ones that still are extant.

In 1996 Thiébaut published his book Bonjour aux promeneurs. Sur le chemin de l'art brut. Paris (Ed Alernatives), 1996. It is one of the classics in France, with reviews of art environments in western and northern France (see the page Annotated bibliography for details).

Creators of art environments in the collection: Séraphin Enrico

A specific achievement of Thiébaut and his friends is the excavation in 1995 of a number of sculptures by Séraphin Enrico (1898-1989) that had been dumped in a pond after the sculptor in 1972 had moved to another part of the country and his decorated garden was demolished.
photo by Herbaltablet
 Also in the collection

Apart from Enrico's creations the collection includes items from some sites that no longer exist or are in advanced state of neglect: Bodan Litnianski (1913-2005), Louis Tourquetil (1916-??), Emile Taugourdeau (1917-1989) and André Hardy (1921-2013).

It also has items from sites that still are extant, such as: Fernand Chatelain (1899-1988), Euclide da Costa Ferreira (1902-1984), Robert Vasseur (1908-2002) and Arthur Vanabelle (1922-2014)

Collection de l'art brut l'Aracine/
Lille art Museum, Art Brut department, Lille, France (1999)

The Lille art Museum, located in northern France in 1999 accepted the donation of the Aracine collection of art brut and from that time on had a special department committed to art brut. In this way this museum that in 1983 was opened as Musée d'Art Moderne became the first public museum in France with a permanent collection of outsider art and regular exhibitions in this field of art.

l'Aracine originated in the 1970’s, when Madeleine Lommel (1923-2009) and some other interested people (Michel Nedjar, Claire Teller) began collecting works of art brut, an activity which in 1982 led to the official formation of the Collection d’Art Brut l'Aracine.

From 1984 until 1996 the collection was presented in a museum in Neuilly-sur-Marne. When operating a museum proved too difficult a task, in 1995 the Musée d’Art Moderne was asked to accept the collection as a donation, a request which was accepted in 1999.

At that time the collection consisted of some 3500 works, including works by famous artists such as Aloïse Corbaz, Henry Darger, Auguste Forestier, Augustin Lesage, Adolf Wolfli and Carlo Zinelli.

After a renovation and an enlargement needed to exhibit the donated collection, the museum reopened in september 2010, renamed into Lille art Museum.

Creators of art environments in the collection

The Aracine collection mainly consists of paintings and sculptures. However it also includes items from a no longer extant Belgian art environment, the totem-like wooden structures created by Theo Wiesen (1906-1999), which currently are part of the museum's permanent exposition.
photo by Richard Bennaars
In 2010 the museum commissioned a group of architects to make a maquette of the decorated farm of Arthur Vanabelle (1922-2014), which currently belongs to the museum's collection. The museum also takes care of (part of) the legacy of Jean Grard (1928-2004).

The musuem owns the archives of l'Aracine, of film makers Claude and Clovis Prévost. of researcher André Escard and of book author Francis David (who wrote about sites in northern France) and it probably has a collection of photo's of art environments. However, it's policy with regard to documenting and presenting art environments in northern France is not clear.

The area has a relatively large and varied number of art environments, some extant, some demolished, some at risk, but the museum's collection doesn't mirror this somewise.

ITE-museum Kokkola, Finland (2001)

The ITE-museum was opened in 2001 as part of the Folk Arts Centre in Kaustinen, Finland.

In 2009 it settled in Kokkola, as part of the Provincial Museum of Ostrobothnia. The museum is administered by the Provincial Museum and it's activity is planned and realised in collaboration between this museum and the Union for Rural Culture and Education. This Union is a nationwide Finnish organization, that in recent decades in the context of its educational and cultural activities has paid much attention to outsider art.

In 2005 the Dallmeier collection of European naive and outsider art, over 200 works of 57 artists, was donated to the community of Kaustinen. It is being cared for by the ITE-museum. Another part of the collection, formally owned by the Union for Rural Culture and Education includes works of outsider artists/creators of art enviroments, that were legated to the organization.

Art environments in the collection

The collection includes works of Enni Id (1904-1992) and Erich Bödeker (1904-1971), both in the Dallmeier collection, and of Väinö Oja (b 1930), Martti Hömppi (1935-2013), Ilmari Salminen (1929-2008) and Timo Peltonen (1929-2007).
photo by Minna Haveri
The collection of photo's features art environments by Enni Id (1904-1992), Aune Kinnunen (b 1931), Elis Sinistö (1912-2004), Ensio Tuppurainen (1924-2014), Seppo Suomensyrjä (b 1950) and Jukka Säntti (b 1959)

In 2003 artist Ben Wilson from England, U.K. payed a visit to Finland. At the courtyard of the Kaustinen Folk Arts Centre he created a wooden structure, which currently still is located there.

Musée "Les Amoureux d'Angélique" (2001)

This museum, a private enterprise, was initiated by Martine and Piere-Louis Boudra (Association Gepetto). They collect art made by non-professional artists in the fields of folk, naive and outsider art. From 2001 on the couple runs a private museum in the community of Carla-Bayle, in the Ariège area in the south of France.

Art environments in the collection: Luigo Buffo

A specific achievement of the couple is that they succeeded in saving the wooden sculptures created by Luigo Buffo (1919-1997) when in 2003 Buffo's art environment after his death. was being destroyed by the family.
photo by Bruno Montpied
 Also in the collection

The collection also includes sculptures by Honorine Burlin (1932-2010) and Joseph Donadello (b 1927), both from southern France.

Musée du Pays Foyen, Sainte-Foy-la-Grance, France
(incorporation of Franck Barret's art environment. 2007- 2010)

Franck Barret (1909-1988) was a farmer who in the late 1940's began making sculptures from clay, depicting holy and famous persons, but also monsters and martians he saw in his dreams. Installed in a barn, the collection was announced as Ferme Musée (Museum at the farm). In the 1960's and 70's it attracted a lot of visitors, especially on sunday afternoons.

After Barret died in 1988, the collection became forgotten, untill around 2005 the family wanted to sell the property and asked a local group op people who took interest in the cultural heritage of the region to look afer the collection of sculptures.


photo Musée du Pays Foyen

It was a huge task for the volunteers to remove the heavy clay sculptures and to restore them, but in september 2010 part of the collection for the first time could be seen in its new venue, the local Musée du Pays Foyen.

More museums/collections

With reduced elucidation here are some more museums/colllections which have items from art environments in their collection,

The Atelier Musée d'art brut et singulier, Montpellier, France, has renovated its garden and installed there early 2016 two huge sculptures, one made by Horace Diaz, which depicts a crocodile, and another one made by Raymond Moralés.

The Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne, Switzerland, has creations in it's collection from various artists related to the field of art environments, such as Guy Brunet (b. 1945), François Portrat (1884-1976), Fernando Oreste Nannetti (1927-1994, facsimiles of his grafitti), Armand Schulthess (1901-1972), Filippo Bentivegna (1888-1967), Abdel Kader Rifi (1920-2005) and Willem van Genk (1927-2005)

The Collection ABCD, Montreuil, France, the important private collection of Bruno Decharme, includes 4000 art brut creations, mainly paintings and sculptures. In relation to art environments the collection has items of wooden furniture of Abbé Fouré and a sculpture by Camille Renault.

The Dolhuys Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands, which focuses on the human mind and psychiatry, from early 2016 on exhibits Willem van Genk's installation Arnhem Bus Station.

The Museum Gugging, Austria has a replica of August Walla's decorated room in the Gugging House of Artists, where it is kept in its original condition. The room can occasionaly be visited with guided tours.

The Kunstmuseum Thurgau, Switzerland, has two sculptures of Finnish creator of a sculpture garden Alpo Koivumäki, made while in residence in 2009 and in 2011.

The Musée de l'Abbaye Sainte-Croix, Les Sables d'Olonne, France, has a bronze entrance door in it's collection, engraved by Hyppolite Massé, part of the decorated facade (no longer extant) of the house where he lived.

The Musée de Veinazès, la Capelle-del-Fraisse, France, has part of the creations from René Delrieu's art environment.

The Museum dr Guislain , Gent, Belgium, focuses on the history of psychiatry, but also has a department of outsider art, where it has creations of Gerard van Lankveld (b. 1947), Bertus Jonkers (1920-2001) and Markus Meurer (b 1959)

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