First Look at the Bayeux Tapestry Museum Design

05 February 2024

We are delighted to unveil the urban and architectural design for the new Bayeux Tapestry Museum

Through sensitive scale and disposition of the building on the site and careful selection of materials, the new museum will be woven elegantly into the existing urban 'tapestry' in which it sits. The extension is designed to be a contemporary symbol, drawing visitors to the museum with an iconic design that clearly places its new extension in the 21st century. This new piece completes the existing 17th- century seminary as an unequivocally contemporary addition. 

The former Bayeux seminary’s architectural features will be preserved, restored and enhanced. Sensitive interventions retain key heritage elements of the historic ensemble, celebrating these. The project does not seek to return the building to a former “original” state but brings it back to life through adapting it to its new uses. Clearly delineated interfaces between historic and new generate a dialogue between past, present and future. 

The principal spaces of the visitor experience within the building are legible from the outside, facilitating instinctive wayfinding and contributing to the ease of movement throughout the visit.

The geometry of the space housing the tapestry is dictated by the spatial qualities that characterise the different views that are offered of this spectacular singular object. The visitor’s proximity to the details of the embroidery and the panoramic view of the tapestry directly inform the shape of the new building.

The extension also resolves the complex geometry of the site, aligning with existing buildings and axes, delineated by the dynamic lines of the roof. This reduces the perception of the building size, reflecting the intimate scale of the houses adjoining the extension and, in its horizontality, the monumental dimensions of the tapestry within.

Stephen Barrett, Partner, RSHP:   “We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected. It’s both a privilege, and a responsibility, to have been offered the opportunity to design the museum that will house this unique, fragile, emblematic object. As a British practice with a long history of working in France, there’s poetry in being able to contribute to a project that symbolizes the deep connections between our two countries, renewing these bonds and helping the next generations in their rediscovery of the tapestry, itself a unique embodiment of this shared past.”

Theo Pagnon, Associate, RSHP:  “We are approaching the redevelopment of the Museum with great excitement and passion. This project aims to enhance the legacy of the Bayeux Tapestry and to promote the institution. It is also an exceptional opportunity for our British architectural practice to begin a new chapter in an already prolific and valuable relationship between Normandy and England”.

 Patrick Gomont, Mayor of Bayeux:  "Working with RSHP means a shared ambition and responsibility to showcase the Bayeux Tapestry, such a precious textile, in all its universal recognition: as a monumental work of art, as an illustrated account of a key moment in European history, and as a documentary object revealing all the richness of the intellectual and material culture of the 11th century."

Antoine Verney, Conservateur en Chef des Musées de Bayeux:  "In the project proposed by RSHP, we immediately appreciated the intelligent dialogue between the volumes of the former 17th-century seminary and the contemporary setting entirely dedicated to the display of the work, characterised by an architectural gesture of pure lines, which has led to the creation of a completely new visitor experience with the aim to improve the conditions for welcoming visitors to a museum of international renown."