For the first time, all of Lascaux is revealed. A complete new replica retraces the discovery of the famous decorated cave. But that’s not the end of the adventure: the entire site inquires into the position that Lascaux occupies in cave art and its relation to contemporary creation. The opening of the International Centre for Cave Art marks the beginning of a new adventure combining the emotion of ancestral art and an important technological achievement.
The complete replica of the original cave is the culmination of three years of work in the Perigord Facsimile Studio. This new space welcomes visitors, inviting them to contemplate the works and experience the authentic emotion felt at the discovery of the cave, to observe, to enquire into the reasons for its existence and to reflect on the environmental and cultural context in which it was decorated.
The architecture of the International Centre forms an integral part of the visitor’s experience: a half-buried building at the foot of the Lascaux hill, it is perfectly integrated into the landscape. A gigantic glass front invites the public to visit a universe firmly focused on technological prowess.
Starting with its shape: there are no straight walls, a tangle of rooms with atypical shapes leads the visitor to the heart of a building of 8,000 sq m. A fault running its whole length evokes a gash in the hill or a prehistoric stratum recalling the passage of time.Continuing with its content: the various spaces with their uncluttered style and modern aesthetics contain the latest digital tools (enhanced reality, 3D screens, etc.). They incite the public all through the visit to enjoy an immersive and personalized experience.
Professional guides will accompany the groups from the site’s welcome desk (where digital tour companions are distributed) to the exit of the complete reproduction of the cave. Additional guides will be present in all theme rooms to answer questions and impart information to enrich the Lascaux tour.
Accompanied by a guide and a tour companion (interactive digital tablet providing information determined by onsite localisation, in 11 languages, including the major European ones) visitors to the International Centre access the roof of the building by means of a lift.
From the belvedere overlooking the Vézère Valley, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, visitors are free to take in the view with their tablets. When the landscape is scanned a virtual reality map appears, pinpointing in particular the location of all surrounding major archaeological sites open to the public.
Next, visitors are invited to enter a shelter where they place themselves in front of a screen. The image of the Lascaux hill appears through this canvas as if one was looking out a window. The live image takes the visitor on a virtual trip outside, changing the landscape according to the hour and the season.
Time travel can now begin. The giant screen gives us a view of the Vézère Valley almost 20,000 years ago when the landscape of Lascaux was totally different from today, and looked like a steppe dominated by animals. Another leap and we fast forward to 1940. The landscape changes. A group of four adolescents crosses the screen. They head off on an adventure in the woods of Lascaux and invite the public to follow them.
The replica represents the whole of the original cave accessible to the public, reproduced with the techniques and the art of the Perigord Facsimile Studio (PFS) and the Artistic Concrete Atelier (AAB).
Inside the replica, the atmosphere is like a real cave. It is cool and dark. Sounds are muffled. Visitors can appreciate the splendour of the works in an authentic atmosphere with very few interruptions. This space is dedicated to contemplation.
Groups of no more than 32 visitors accompanied by a guide ensure that each visitor’s experience will be as personalised as possible. During the time devoted to contemplation of the walls, the guide will accompany the group and provide information to enrich the visitor’s knowledge of the site.
Eight large walls of the cave are reproduced in this space where visitors are free to circulate. All the cave’s major works are represented: “Two Crossed Bison”, “The Great Black Cow”, “The Panel of the Imprint”, “The Apse”, “The Shaft Scene”, “The Axial Gallery”, “The Upside-Down Horse” and “The Hall of the Bulls”. In enhanced reality, visitors find information on the various representations, techniques and interpretations.
In this immense hall, four different displays are on offer :
The model : discover the cave in a completely original way with virtual reality! Using the tour companion, visitors can scan the surface of this model to see the works located at various points inside the cave.
The art experience : with the same tools and techniques used by Palaeolithic humans, visitors can create their own works of art virtually. This space shows everything one needs to know for understanding the techniques, tools and choices of these artists.
A fragile balance : how did the cave survive the passage of time? Why was it closed to the public? How can we continue to preserve it on a daily basis? All these questions that you ask yourself are answered in a new immersive experience made possible by the latest technologies.
The Lascaux objects : here you can handle the objects found during archaeological dig sand learn more about them. A number of different objects are assembled on an animated table like an archaeologist’s. A video provides information on these finds and the dating techniques used for understanding Lascaux. Two touch-screens placed on the edge of the table present an interactive chronology showing Lascaux’s place in the history of humanity.
Visitors enter a modern theatre or rather a series of “small rooms” showing scripted plays organised in three acts.
Act I – 19th century: Renaissance. When the first door opens, the visitors enter a room that takes them back in time. They find themselves in the 19th century at the time of the Universal Exposition of 1878. There they discover the first decorated caves and engage with pre-historians who are asking themselves about these discoveries and their authenticity. Could prehistoric man really have painted such masterpieces ?
Act II – 20th century: Interpretation. Inside this room, a scripted play brings to life the ideas and methods of two famous pre-historians of the 20th century: André Leroi-Gourhan and Abbé Henri Breuil. You are entering the world of the great adventurers and archaeologists of the last century, revolving around the main archaeological discovery of the 20th century: the Lascaux cave.
Act III – 21st century: Research. This act is resolutely looking to the present and to the future. The public witnesses the incredible world of state-of-the-art technology, used by contemporary researchers and archaeologists. In the context of a research laboratory, the play presents the research techniques of today!
Wearing 3D glasses, visitors take seats facing two giant screens. A multi-screen 3D film proposes a unique visit of the Lascaux cave. The first screen shows images made from 3D surveys of the original cave. The second presents scenes of other decorated caves around the world. In this way, the audience can get a close look at the works.
This commented film entitled “Lascaux and the World” takes the audience to the heart of the Hall of the Bulls, the Axial Gallery, the Passage, the Nave, the Apse and the Shaft…and features the world’s different decorated caves, with their animal representations and signs…Get ready for a strikingly realistic experience.
This room explores the connections between various art works from cave art to contemporary art. The surrounding wall with 90 screens composed of images of works by well-known artists such as Miró, Tapies or Picasso make up this unusual exhibition. Jean Paul Jouary, philosopher and curator of the exhibition, has selected various works linked to the universe of Lascaux: depending on the techniques, the themes, the types of representation and his artistic inspiration, he explores the connection existing between cave art and contemporary art.
Six interactive displays face the public. Visitors are asked to compose their own exhibition by a choice of images. This selection of images from modern art combined with images from cave art can be assembled into a single exhibition, according to the visitors’ wishes, and seen by all.
For the inauguration of the International Centre for Cave Art, beginning 15 December 2016, the exhibition hosts the work of Gérard Gasiorowski (Paris, 1930 – Lyon, 1986).
After training at the École des Arts Appliqués between 1947 and 1951, Gérard Gasiorowski progressively gained a place on the artistic scene between 1964 and 1972. This painter’s “precisionist” work features the enhancement of choice images he collected from his time as a librarian at the Delpire publishing house.
The discovery of the cave represented a crucial moment in his life as a man and as a creator. From this encounter stemmed an extraordinary series of works, a selection of which will be presented here.