Limoges – Musée National Adrien Dubouché

This blog post is about a pottery museum. Now, at first, that might sound something which is of rather limited interest other than to Andrew. But, it was more accessible that I expected and it was carefully and thoughtfully laid out. My first impressions from the exterior of the building were that it looked a grand institution, and it has a long history given that it was first established in the middle of the nineteenth century.

The former entrance to the museum was through the grand frontage in the top photograph, but a more recent expansion to the building has created a new entry point.

Above is the original entrance hall to the museum, with its decorative flooring and sweeping stairs to the upper levels.

The external exhibit is made up of colourful pieces of pottery which have been mis-shapen and attached to a wall. It looks interesting and sets the tone for the rest of the museum visit, which is a narrative that isn’t too formal.

I had intended to buy the Limoges City Pass to give me free entrance to the museum, but it has transpired that there was no admission charge today because it’s the first Sunday of the month. I thought that the museum would be a lot busier because of that, but it’s a spacious building and it never felt at all crowded.

The staff member at the entrance was helpful and engaging, explaining what was in the museum and how to get around it. There’s also a free English translation available on iPad, although they need a form of ID and payment to be left with them to ensure they get the iPad back.

The first part of the museum is on the mezzanine level and it’s an introduction to porcelain and pottery. I must admit that I was distracted at this point by the extreme heat that I had walked through to get the museum, so I spent the first fifteen minutes trying to cool down.

The photo above shows the process of making decorative plates, from their initial firing to the end result which includes the different layers of decoration. I don’t think I could have a career in this type of thing, it sounds like a process fraught with things that could go wrong….

One of the long galleries with porcelain and pottery being displayed, all spacious and well presented. I liked how although the environment was clearly nineteenth century, the use of modern signage and presentation methods made the museum feel rather contemporary.

One thing I did like is that there was an entire room dedicated to explaining how the museum had come to exist, and how it developed. The current purpose-built location is the third home for the museum, with the second home being a former lunatic asylum. I’m sure that didn’t quite have entirely the right aesthetics for the museum, so above are the original drawings for the new building.

This colourful pieces of pottery are from the earlier part of the museum collection, with the potters starting to be able to add colours and detailed decoration to the products.

Another early decorative plate.

I’m not sure that I’d want this on my mantelpiece… Well, I don’t have a mantelpiece, but if I did, I wouldn’t want it there….

On that theme, this is a photo of a small section of a much larger piece. The snakes depicted on it are I’m sure very lovely for those who like snakes, but I can’t think of any pottery I’d want less on display in my home. Well, I can, but my point remains sort of valid.

The above two photographs are of Meissen pieces, and I’ve heard of this German porcelain producer. I think primarily because it was mentioned in one of the Steptoe and Son episodes.

In the fifteenth century (I didn’t know this, I learned this at the museum!) potters in China were able to develop polychrome decoration. This process really meant that they had five colours to work from, so the pieces which they made started to become more decorative.

Spanish faience pieces from the seventeenth century. No, I hadn’t heard of the word until the information on the iPad explained it to me. It’s an Italian term for a certain form of tin-glazed pottery.

This piece puzzled me for some time, it’s modern and made from porcelain and metal. Well, that’s what the description said, but it honestly looked like a leather bag to me even up close. If it actually is pottery, and I have no reason to doubt that it isn’t since it’s in a pottery museum, then this is an incredible piece of work.

I had no idea, which is primarily because I have no clue about art, that Picasso designed pottery. And above is one of his pieces, which does have a certain depth to it which I like.

The above three photos are of items which were on the table of modern ceramics, make of those what you will…

I’m not sure what this is meant to represent, but it looked fun. It’s called Space Mountain and was produced (or crafted, whatever the best word is) in Paris in 2013.

So, overall, I thought this was a really novel and interesting museum, somewhere that I might not have usually gone. The history of porcelain and pottery making was explained, and I liked how the iPad was clearly laid out for those who didn’t speak French. My visit here lasted for around ninety minutes, but I’m sure those with a deeper knowledge of pottery would want to stay for much longer. Another friendly and welcoming museum, very lovely!