29 November 2019
Built by Niort Chief architect Georges Lasseron at the end of the 19th century, the Jean Macé High School for Girls is currently home of the main museum in Niort, the Bernard d’Agesci Museum. The multidisciplinary art collections are at the same time didactic and historical, because we can visit the Fine Arts section, the Natural History section, or even a conservatoire and an Education Observatory.
A museum between Arts and Sciences
Museum room with tiled ceiling.
First of all, it is worth noticing who was Bernard d’Agesci since the museum is bearing his name. As a painter and a sculptor from Niort, Bernard d’Agesci (1756-1829), whose real name is jean-Charles-Henri-Augustin Bernard, was a jack of all trades: Architect, landscaper, art teacher. He also shared his talents for the benefit of the City and the Department’s administrations.
Ideally located just a few meters away from the heart of Niort, the “Place de la Brèche” and its big parking spot, the Bernard d’Agesci Museum is the main museum of the city of Niort. Inside the magnificent place that is the former Jean Macé high School for Girls, visitors are invited to travel through different times and different disciplines.
The Fine Arts section, located on the 3rd floor is full of sculptures, paintings and decorative arts from local artists – enamel, ivories, ceramics -, including a magnificent ceiling on Parthenay earthenware done by Prosper Jouneau for the 1889 Universal Exposition. Earthenware and jewellery complement this collection with works from Pierre-Marie Poisson, a 19th-century sculptor from Niort. With those works stands another part of this wonderful collection of string instruments from Auguste Tolbecque with a 15-string bass lyra, also known as “lyrone”, from 1898.
Going down one floor, you discover a collection of civilian, religious and even Islamic pieces of art, as well as paintings dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries.
Natural history, Education and scientific objects conservatory
Conservatory of Education and Scientific Objects
The second floor is also devoted to the conservation of tools and methods used in technical and scientific teachings. It’s a perfect opportunity to go back to school and discover classrooms from the past.
Change of scenery as you continue the visit and discover the “Natural History” part of the museum. Regional ornithology, osteology and geology of the Marais poitevin and the Bocage area are gathered here. The contemporary scenography brings the visitor to the cabinet of curiosities.
The d’Agesci Museum, a cultural and living space
Like the Museum of Niort Dungeon – combined tickets available – the d’Agesci Museum regularly organises events to discover this place in a unique way. Guided tours and other activities for children like a day at the museum with workshop and snack time, or a birthday celebration in the museum, are regularly proposed (see the Museum’s programme and dates). At the same time, this museum is lucky to welcome the “Mardis de l’Ecole du Louvre”: teachings in Art History, Archaeology, Epigraphy, Anthropology and Museology, conducted by teachers and researcher from the famous Parisian school in the museum : Le Louvre. Indeed for the 5th consecutive year, two cycles are available by reservation: the cabinets of curiosities and From the bow to the brush.
The d’Agesci Museum, as a cultural and living space, is open all year long and is a good cultural break between two bicycle or boat rides in the Marais poitevin.