In the centre of the new Hauts-de-France region, the city of Arras has some exceptional architectural heritage, part of which is classified as Unesco World Heritage. The Musée des beaux-arts, with its important collection, is housed in the old Abbey of Saint-Vaast, one of the great monastic complexes of the 18th century, organised around two courtyards, a majestic cloister and the former monks' refectory.
Its collections spread over 6000m² offer an exceptional journey from the Middle Ages to the end of the 19th century. The museum maintains a collection of more than 32,000 items: paintings from the 17th century of the former Netherlands and French School (Champaigne, Vignon, Lebrun, Rubens, etc.) as well as a unique group of large size 17th-century French religious paintings, unique in France, including seven "Mays" from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.
The museum also presents the most beautiful examples of the history of Arras, including medieval sculptures, 18th century Arras porcelain, landscape paintings from the Arras School (around Corot, Dutilleux, Desavary, etc.) as well as a unique example of the extremely smooth tapestries (Arrazi) that made Arras famous in the 15th century.
Since the beginning of the partnership between the Palace of Versailles, the Hauts-de-France region and the city of Arras in 2012, the museum has followed a dynamic policy of temporary exhibitions. The national exhibitions, Roulez carrosses! and the Palace of Versailles in 100 masterpieces, which together attracted more than 400,000 visitors, have given an unprecedented impulse to the museum.
Many exhibitions of contemporary artists have also been presented: Janusz Stega's painted fabrics, Makhi Xenakis sculptures, Moussa Sarr's videos and photographs, and more recently those of Pierre-Yves Bohm and Claude Cattelain.
These exhibitions offer an opportunity to propose resonance programming for all audiences: guided tours, partnerships with social and medical organisations, artistic workshops, seminars, lectures, concerts, shows and events outside the walls.