The Musée des Confluences in Lyon

  • © Musée des Confluences

    © Musée des Confluences

The Musée des Confluences in Lyon Rue Paul Montrochet 69002 Lyon fr

The Musée des Confluences is located at the confluence of the rivers Rhône and Saône. The building has 236,800 square feet of floor area and is themed on crystal and cloud, on mineral and lightness.

The symbolic setting at the confluence of the Saône and Rhône rivers within the Lyon agglomeration, characterized by its scientific, economic and industrial past, called for a strong architectural statement.

The architect, Hence Coop Himmelb(l)au’s idea was to approach to the cultural project of the museum by combining two architectural units, the Crystal and the Cloud, symbols respectively of the known the familiar environment of today and the unknown the sometimes unfounded fears of tomorrow.

The Base, the Crystal and the Cloud

The building rests on a base which houses the production workshops, the auditoriums and the group visit reception area.

The Crystal marks the north entrance to the museum, on the city side. It is designed to be an urban forum: under its forty metres of glass is an area for meeting and exchange.
A complete contrast in its shape and the diversity of its materials, the Cloud rests on three piers and fourteen monumental columns. It is clad in a stainless steel skin which captures the multiple echoes of sky and city, and of water and greenery. It houses all the exhibitions.

A unique cultural venue

With its remarkable cultural installations, the museum has broken the mold.

One of the floors of the Cloud (35500 square feet) is dedicated entirely to permanent exhibitions, while the other (29 000 square feet) offers two temporary exhibition platforms, discovery areas, a digital resources corner and the Museolab, an area dedicated to experimentation in museum technology.

The Base, which is the museum’s technology area, is also a public area with two auditoriums seating 327 and 122 respectively, available for scientific and cultural programmes and private events.

The museum’s services include a brasserie, a self-service-restaurant, a cafeteria with terrace, a bookstore and shop and a 262 600 square feet landscaped garden open to the public.

Permanent exhibition areas

Four areas display 1,600 emblematic items from the collection.

  • The first room considers the issue of the origins of the universe and mankind by mixing two ways and means of explaining the world: one scientific, the other symbolic.
  • A second room presents Homo sapiens as an animal species evolving within the complex mesh of biodiversity.The path through the room examines the existence of human beings in relation to their natural, social and personal environment.
  • A third space provides stories, from here and elsewhere,concerning the past and the present on three themes: organization, exchange and innovation. With an eye to the future, it raises the issue of the individual’s involvement in and commitment to building ways to live together.

Finally, the last space takes up the issue of death in different societies and of how mankind has always attempted to push back its limits.


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