In April 2009 the Nantes City Council unanimously approved the museum's renovation and extension programme.
Opened in April 1900, the former "Palais des Arts" does not fully meet today's conservation standards and is not large enough to enable presentation of the entire collection.
The English architectural team Stanton Williams won the competition with an extension to be situated behind the present building. Their proposal meets all the requirements laid down in the brief of 2008, which emphasised the need for mediation spaces – workshops for school groups, an auditorium – together with new areas for the contemporary collection, improved documentation and library facilities, and upgrading of the original exhibition areas for the permanent collection.
Anxious to avoid discontinuity, the architects took pains to ensure a use of natural light which would help visitors find in the new space that much-appreciated characteristic of the old: overhead lighting obtained by the use of skylighting for the whole of the upper floor.
The preliminary design is now complete and confirms all the promise of the winning project.
Stanton Williams' project
Stanton Williams website.