Work on Snøhetta’s cave art museum completed in France

Work has been completed on the International Centre for Cave Art in Montignac, southwest France.

The building will hold replicas of 20,000-year-old Lascaux cave paintings, which have been billed as the "Sistine Chapel of prehistory" owing to the insight they give into the culture of Europe’s hunter gatherers.

The project was a collaboration between Norwegian architect Snøhetta, UK firm SRA and scenographer Casson Mann along and a team of archaeologists.

The museum will feature state-of-the-art storytelling technology paired with a facsimile of the caves. Snøhetta said it was trying to give visitors "a sense of wonder and mystery … lights flicker just as the animal-fat lamps of paleolithic times did, revealing the layers of paintings and engravings on the surface of the walls".

The temperature drops to 16°C inside the cave which was "developed through 3D laser scanning and casting technologies to replicate the original cave form to a 1 millimeter tolerance".

After construction, 25 artists spent two years hand-painting 900m of resin rock reproductions.

To ensure the highest level of accuracy, artists used the same pigments that the prehistoric painters used 20,000 years ago to recreate the 1,900 paintings and engravings.

The 11,400m2 Lascaux IV Caves Museum is situated at the intersection of two contrasting landscapes, a densely forested, protected hillside and the agricultural Vézère Valley.

Images courtesy of Snøhetta

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  1. And 50,000 years from now, when the earth has undergone some sort of cataclysm and there are very few records left , the people of that far distant future time will stare in wonder and try to figure out why two TOTALLY identical caves and paintings were made by their prehistoric ancestors. There will be many, many debates about the historical and religious significance, etc,.

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