Famed French Designer Takes On Dallas' Museum of Street Culture

The Museum of Street Culture is getting closer to fruition.EXPAND
The Museum of Street Culture is getting closer to fruition.
produced by Documentary Arts, courtesy of the Museum of Street Culture at Encore Park

Two years into its development, the upcoming Museum of Street Culture (MoSC) is ready for an experienced midwife to bring it to life.  So when Paris-based museographic designer Adrien Gardère comes to town this Saturday to lead a discussion about the museum’s design, it's more significant than just a public event. 

Located at the urban core of downtown between City Hall and Dallas Farmers Market, the MoSC is an initiative of The Stewpot and First Presbyterian Church in Encore Park. The complex is envisioned to make use of the amphitheater, a community garden and two multipurpose buildings to house exhibitions, workshops, music, film, archives, historical artifacts and interactive media. Planned exhibitions will showcase art by Dallas' homeless.

Museum officials say the internationally known Gardère is already a consultant for the MoSC, and may be in talks to be its designer. He's worked on a similar project with Olivier Meslay, the Associate Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art. Prior to coming to Dallas, Meslay was a project director for the development and opening of the Louvre-Lens, a satellite museum of the Musée du Louvre in Northern France. 

Gardère designed the exhibitions spaces for the museum, which is located in an industrial area in economic decline, with high unemployment rates. The museum has an innovative, low-scale design that the museum says would suit Dallas well. No art hangs on the walls. Instead, tablets guide viewers through a 360-degree tour through the art collecting history of the Louvre. The Louvre-Lens has now become the most successful satellite museum in France.

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"[Lens] is not an area where you would expect to find a satellite branch of the Louvre," says Alan Govenar, founding director of the MoSC. "Design can affect the outreach of the museum.” 

The MoSC will work to bring large and small institutions together and put trained and untrained artists side-by-side. To succeed it will have to create a diverse audience. “How do you catalyze people to see collections that they may otherwise be unfamiliar with?” Govenar asks.

Part of the MoSC, 508 Park Avenue is an historic building, where artists like Robert Johnson and Bob Wills recorded. From London, Ace Records will help sponsor the renovation, transforming it into an operating recording studio that produces 78 rpm records. “We haven’t completely sourced the equipment yet,” Govenar says. “But we’re looking.”

French street artist Alëxone Dizac will have an upcoming workshop for the Stewpot artists, as well as a possible collaboration, officials say. Several exhibitions are already in the works, with some planned for next year. Govenar mentions an exhibition featuring the work of Mary Ellen Mark; there will be a show centered on the emergence of the Dallas recording scene; another on Texas blues, swing and Mexican music from the 1920s and '30s; photographs, murals and graffiti from the 1970s to the present; a Texas regionalism exhibit with a selection of drawing, paintings and prints; and an exhibit of sculptures by homeless artists.

This weekend’s inaugural event for the Museum of Street Culture’s speaker series at the Nasher marks an important stage in the development of the museum, with more lectures planned. “What’s amazing is the way in which Encore Park defines itself,” Govenar says. “What’s unique about this area is it’s this exploding urban development and at the same time Encore Park bridges this gulf that exists between people of different cultural groups and socioeconomic status. The idea is to try to build a community in an unlikely place.”

Reinventing the Museum: Olivier Meslay in Conversation with Adrian Gardère takes place from 1-3 p.m. this Saturday, April 23, at the Nasher Sculpture Center, 2001 Flora St. The lecture is free with admission to the Nasher, but advance registration is required; RSVP here.


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