A Visit to Musée National Marc Chagall

I’m a great admirer of Chagall and his work, and was looking forward to revisiting his Museum in Nice to discover just what last winter’s three-month renovation had achieved. So, on a sunny, warm Sunday afternoon in June I was happy to return, this time with a friend who was visiting Nice and who’d never paid Chagall much attention. After a leisurely 20-minute stroll from the city Centre, we arrived in lower Cimiez at the gates of the museum garden. As Chagall was closely involved in designing this, too, its aesthetic is important (especially to me, as it echoes my own taste). Sadly, it was not well-maintained and there was trash on the lawn when we arrived. No evidence of renovation, here. The cafe in the garden is still a pleasant place to sit and enjoy drinks, light snacks and lunch – so that’s where we stopped after our visit to chat about our impressions. We were disappointed that the famous stained-glass windows were completely covered so that a film of some of Chagall’s theatre work could be projected. The film is illuminating, but nowhere near as much as those windows (which are one of the major features of the building). That’s one aspect to an element of carelessness as to how the museum is run – the accompanying website is poor and out-of-date. Descriptive texts next to the paintings have sometimes been poorly translated, not proof-read and (in at least one case) were not complete. No evidence of renovation here, either. Staff were plentiful, if inattentive, at the entrance for ticketing and for purchasing in the shop, but only one member was actually in evidence in the galleries, without ID, and he seemed permanently agitated. I fully believe this museum was a great gift from Chagall and that those who are now in charge of curating and caring for it could do better. Indeed, there’s such an air of carelessness to the place that it’s as well for us all that Chagall’s work can take care of, and speak for, itself. I’ll go back again, to listen.

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