If I have any taste,

it is for hardly anything but earth and stones.

(Feasts of Hunger, 1872)


There may appear to be an antagonism between Rimbaud and the museum, even though he claims to have frequented the Louvre and the British Museum, and even if works such as Illuminations conjure imagery that can only be described as museographic.

We must designate for him a particular type of museum, a poetic space that evokes his poetry and his life—the clash, the rupture, the contrast, the wandering that characterizes both his work and his destiny.


From his first verses, Rimbaud is in movement, in flight, yearning to leave—an existential principal that remains with him throughout his life. A museum threatens to confine a man who adored “free freedom:” “What do you want? I’m terribly irritated by my love of free freedom…” (letter to Georges Izambard, November 2, 1870). It must therefore be a free space, where a man of wanderlust will never feel confined and which gives the visitor not just a taste for poetry, but for liberty.


The new Rimbaud museum is a radical break from traditional exhibitions, creating an interiority in stark contrast with the exterior envelope and plunging the visitor into a space out of time. In this space, liberated and free-floating, stone structures the overall concept. It is a curatorial module, a structural prism, a spatial benchmark, punctuating the space and the view. The stone, which Rimbaud associates with the earth in Feasts of Hunger, is also an object he associates the air, movement, and thus with his existential wandering. In My Bohemian Life, he imagines Daydreaming Tom Thumb, dropping as many stones as there are rhymes. He refers to it again in Season in Hell, in which the water, the other great Rimbaudian element, covers the stone: “Ah, childhood! The grass, the rain, the lake on the stones…” Entering into the space, the visitor discovers a world made new. This world, disjointed from all spatial and temporal conditions, “well after the days and the seasons, the beings and the countries,” (Illuminations) immerses the visitor in a poetic space of excess, chaos, and renewal, and constructs a new reality, a hallucination.



  • Type: Réhabilitation, scénographie
  • State: Concours
  • Year: 2012
  • Client: Ville de Charleville-Méiziéres
  • Area: 1250m²
  • Budget: 3,6 M€ T.T.C.
  • Team: Studio Malka Architecture Architecte Mandataire I TDA Architecte Local I Zen D+Co Scénographes I Eranthis Paysagistes I Gecibat Bet Structure et Fluides I André Guyaux Spécialiste Rimbaldien I Tristan Spella Render I Naomi Sakamoto Traductrice
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