FRAC Grand Large — Hauts-de-France
Located on the Dunkirk port, the FRAC Grand Large — Hauts-de-France building was designed by the architects Lacaton & Vassal. It was imagined as a transparent replica of the old Halle AP2 hangar, a vast vestige of Dunkirk’s historic ship-building industry. The FRAC’s mission is to further develop and disseminate its collection of contemporary art, to organize and host temporary exhibitions and encounters, to publish works, and to carry out public-awareness and educational activities throughout the region. Its exceptional collection, stretching from the 1960s to the present day, allows for a unique programming underlining socio-political approaches to art, as well as interactions between art and design. Indeed, the FRAC Grand Large is France’s only regional art collection housing a collection dedicated to design, testifying to both the institution’s openness to the world of objects and the international intermingling of contemporary design sources and creations.
Constructed in 1945, the Halle AP2, a former ship-building factory, is a veritable living memorial site, a geographic landmark that left its indelible mark on the local and social history of Dunkirk and the Hauts-de-France region, and still continues to influence the surrounding territory. Known locally as the “Cathedral”, the imposing edifice stretches 75 metres along the Dunkirk coast. For nearly 40 years, this site gave birth to ocean liners, cargo ships, sailing ships, oil tankers and battleships, before the shipyards’ definitive closure in 1988. The regular launch of brand-new boats strongly impacted Dunkirk’s collective imagination and memory for decades.
LAAC — contemporary art museum
The LAAC contemporary art museum was born of a unique relationship in 1982 between its founder, the engineer Gilbert Delaine, local manufacturers, and artists. A veritable garden-museum overlooking Dunkirk Beach, the LAAC defies the sky with its remarkable, white-ceramic architecture. As effervescent and gay as the Pop Years, the LAAC is home to an exceptional collection of over 1,500 works, mirroring the 1940s to ‘80s and continuing up to the present day. One of the finest graphic arts rooms anywhere occupies the heart of the museum. There, curious visitors can freely browse and contemplate nearly 200 drawings and prints exhibited in drawers and sliding showcases. This convivial museum offers a multitude of fun and interactive tools for a visit with family or friends, as well as a rich, year-long events calendar combining the fine and performing arts.