Musee du Dessin de L’Estampe
Château de Gravelines
Place Charles Valentin
Tel: 00 33(0)3 28 24 99 70
Open: Every day, 2pm-5pm; Saturdays, 3pm-6pm.
Admission: Adults 2 euros. Under 18’s and students go free.
Located on the Aa river, the Musee du Dessin de L’Estampe – Prints and Graphic Art museum – was created in 1982 jointly by the Nord artists group, the Gravelines group, and the local political authorities. It has a permanent collection of prints from the fifteenth century to the present day. This unique museum is housed in the Château of Gravelines, (just off the town square) in a former gunpower room. It is noted as the only French Museum that has graphic arts as a speciality. The collection of around 8,000 engravings includes international as well as European artists, such as Arman, l’Apocalypse’ by Dürer, Doré, Léger, Miro and Picasso and sculptors by Arman. The museum also features temporary exhibitions in its basement.
Elsewhere on the grounds of Château de Gravelines you can descend underground to ‘La salle du Pilier‘ a room located within the castle’s ramparts. This is a permanent exhibition dedicated to the history of the town. On display is an impressive relief of the fortified town as it was when it was in the 18th century. You can see the fortifications that were built by military engineer Vaubhan who was commissioned by Sun King Louis XIV. The king also ordered miniatures of his towns, like this one, in order to plan his strategies more effectively. It is an identical copy of the original presented at the Museum of Fine Arts of Lille.
To the left of the museum is ‘la salle du four à pain ‘ once an ancient artillery room that became a bakery in 1693. It was used to ensure there was a constant supply of fresh bread to feed the troops and doubled as a room from where canon balls could be fired.