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A tribute to a heroine of history

by Suzanne Miao on May 14, 2015 in Architecture
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Projections in the former kitchens depict
meetings with the King and the trial in Poitiers (© Thomas Boivin — Métropole Rouen Normandie)

Projections in the former kitchens depict meetings with the King and the trial in Poitiers (© Thomas Boivin — Métropole Rouen Normandie)

Jeanne d'Arc — better known in the west as Joan of Arc — is inextricably linked to the city of Rouen in France, despite only spending a few months there. In March this year, a museum dedicated to telling her story opened its doors, saluting the Maid of Orleans

Three years ago, the Métropole Rouen Normandie, under the impetus of Laurent Fabius, decided it was time to create a fitting monument to the memory of Jeanne d'Arc in the city. Synonymous with the martyr, Rouen
is the place where her innocence was pronounced in 1456, following a trial which exculpated her conviction of 1431.

"Although she spent only a few months in Rouen, these months have marked the history of our country and have made Jeanne a symbol of our region," says Frédéric Sanchez, president of the Métropole Rouen Normandie. "She was known as the Maid of Orleans, but it was in Rouen that her destiny took on the entirety of its tragic amplitude."

A statue of the martyred Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc, located in the old kitchens of the former archbishop's residence

A statue of the martyred Maid of Orleans, Jeanne d'Arc, located in the old kitchens of the former archbishop's residence (© Thomas Boivin — Métropole Rouen Normandie)

Opening its doors in March this year, the Historial Jeanne d'Arc was established on firm historical and literary sources, thanks to the efforts of a prestigious research committee accompanying the project. The Historial Jeanne d'Arc has a twofold ambition: to tell her story using the museum's original scenography and the site's stunning architecture, coupled with the use of modern technology, create an immersive and vivid museum experience, and to make history of that story.

The Historial Jeanne d'Arc is located in the magnificent premises of the former archbishop's residence, an architecturally significant building which has a strong medieval identity. Intimately linked to the fate of d'Arc, it houses the remains of the room, known as 'the Officiality' where her sentence was pronounced in 1431, and where the trial for her exoneration or rehabilitation was held in 1456.

The Chapelle d'Aubigné, located within the museum itself (© Thomas Boivin — Métropole Rouen Normandie)

The Chapelle d'Aubigné, located within the museum itself (© Thomas Boivin — Métropole Rouen Normandie)

With a surface area of almost 1,000 sq-m, the museum boasts 10 exhibition spaces, set over five levels. The restoration project began in September 2013 and continued over a one-year period. From the outset, the building was restored with the museum project in mind — the museographic masterplan was developed in parallel with the restoration of the site.

This is a preview of the “A tribute to a heroine of history" article from the May 2015 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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