To learn everything there is to know about the Lascaux project.
Lascaux yesterday, today and tomorrow
20,000 years ago…Man inscribed his memory at Lascaux
Located in the municipality of Montignac in the Dordogne, in the heart of the Black Perigord, the Lascaux cave is a masterpiece of prehistoric art. It is a timeless universal work as only are the other great creations of humanity. The cavity extends over some 200 metres and is composed of alternating, more or less circular rooms and gallery-corridors. Flashback on more than 70 years of operating that have made it possible to heighten the transmission of this timeless work of art.
From cave art to technological innovation
The Lascaux cave
September 12th 1940: Lascaux is discovered
The story of 4 teenage boys (Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Simon Coencas and Georges Agniel) who spotted a hole in the middle of the woods. They raced down a large scree slope and discovered what was to become one of the most prestigious discoveries of the 20th century. Sensing the importance of their find, they alerted Léon Laval, a retired schoolteacher and prehistory enthusiast, who followed them there on 19th September, and realized the cave’s exceptional quality. It was moreover to be listed as a historical monument in December 1940.
1963: Closing of Lascaux
After WWII, the cave was equipped for tourism, followed by one million visits from 1948 to 1963. From 1955 this affluence resulted in the first signs of deterioration in the paintings: algae and bacteria called “green sickness” appeared on the walls, as well as calcite “white sickness” which is the re-crystallisation of the rock face.
Research showed that this deterioration was essentially due to the large number of visitors. On March 20th 1963, André Malraux, then minister for cultural affairs, ordered the closing of the cave.
1983: Opening of Lascaux II
To meet public demand, the project of a replica was launched in the beginning of the 1970s. Artist Monique Peytral and sculptor Pierre Weber executed the first paintings on experimental substrates, using natural elements. The results are remarkable but serious financial difficulties called a halt to the work.
In 1978 the General Council decided to buy the replica and work resumed. A number of painters, sculptors and decorators were involved in the project. On July 18th 1983, the first tourist entered Lascaux II. Located on the same hill as the original cave, Lascaux II reproduces the Hall of the Bulls and the Axial Gallery, representing 90% of the paintings contained in the original. Its two “museographic chambers” trace the history of the cave and illustrate the artists’ techniques. It is a technological prowess that through great scientific and artistic rigour, has managed to capture the atmosphere of the original cave: ferro-cement casings, a structure inspired by shipbuilding, minutely replicated contours, polychromatic paintings executed with natural colours just as prehistoric artists did. Since opening, Lascaux II has received more than 10 million visitors.
Lascaux III — Lascaux, International Exhibition
2012: the exhibition’s tour begins
Using new technologies for moulding and reproducing the mineral wall, the Dordogne General Council implements the reproduction of the Nave (“the black cow”, “the frieze of the stags”, the “panel of the imprint”, “the crossed bison”) and the “shaft scene”, all parts of the cave that were not reproduced at Lascaux II.
After Bordeaux, Chicago, Houston, Montreal, Brussels, Paris and Geneva, the Lascaux exhibition is now in South Korea, in Gwangmyeong, near Seoul.
Lascaux IV – The International Centre for Cave Art
Opens December 15th 2016
The entire Lascaux cave will be the main component of the International Centre for Cave Art in Montignac. The new facility will revolve around the use of new image and virtual technologies in the service of “mediation”. Its cultural offering and programmes will combine demanding scientific standards and a veritable desire to make it accessible to the general public.
The International Centre for Cave Art Montignac-Lascaux will be a benchmark tourist and cultural facility for the enhancement and dissemination of cave art based on the painted and engraved representations in the Lascaux cave.
This new space will welcome visitors and invite them to contemplate and experience an authentic emotion in the discovery of the cave, to learn to observe it, to ponder over it, and reflect on the environmental and cultural context in which it was created.