The cave drawings discovered at Lascaux in 1940 enjoyed over 1,000 visitors a day until the doors were shut in 1963, due to the damage caused by carbon dioxide breathed out by tourists. Lascaux II was opened nearby in 1983, but only replicated parts of the famous Paleolithic art. Now, Lascaux IV will bring an immersive experience of the caves to visitors once again, with a new museum and complete facsimile of the famous cave.
Winners of the Lascaux IV: International Cave Painting Center competition, Casson Mann, Duncan Lewis and Snøhetta have envisioned a museum that is line with the topography of the landscape, with a low profile exterior that almost sinks into the surrounding rock. The interior will be made up of caverns and tunnels to replicate the Lascaux caves, with chambers dramatically lit by shafts of light from above. Within will be a full replica of the cave drawings, which has never been done before.
The museum is meant to be a sensory experience, so that one not only appreciates the ancient drawings of animals and people, but also the experience of discovering the drawings that 18 year old Marcel Ravidat had in 1940. Said Roger Mann, co-founder and creative director of Casson Mann:
Our task is to ensure that every visitor leaves with a sense of having been close to something very special. We are asking the visitor to imagine they are following the three boys who discovered the cave in 1940.
To complete the experiential journey, all visitors must leave their 21st century belongings in lockers and are given an ‘interactive torch and explorer’s cape’ to venture into the caves. While the original Lascaux drawings may be permanently be hidden from view in the name of preservation, Lascaux IV will certainly be the next best thing.
The center is due to open in 2015 but for now see the architects’ renderings below: