Designed in the mid 60's, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art came into its own in 1973 thanks to the generosity of the Arp family. Between 1920 and 1973 the family donated around thirty of Hans Arp and Sophie Taeuber Arp's historical pieces thus encouraging the municipality to create an independent museum of modern art. Indeed, if until that date the compiled collection was more or less the hazardous fruit of bequests and donations, a coherent policy to purchase modern art was rapidly initiated beginning 1973, making it top priority once the city decided to build a modern museum of art in Strasbourg in 1987.
Inaugurated in 1998, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Strasbourg (MAMCS) complements the network of city museums by offering a veritable panorama of modern and contemporary art in Western Europe from 1890 to the present.
After winning an international competition, the project was entrusted to architect Adrien Fainsilber. The building erected on the bank of the Ill, in the heart of the town's historical center occupies a surface area of around 13,000 square meters divided into two sections: one facing the Petite France neighborhood, the other paralleling the area around the train station. Between the two, a vast glass nave serves as a reception hall and an articulation between rooms, favoring transparency between the museum's interior and the city.
The museum's architecture exploits a concept of open space. The entry courtyard opens onto a bay window allowing a glimpse of the interior of a room devoted to Hans Jean Arp, Strasbourg's artist and companion to 20th century avant-gardists. After crossing through revolving doors, the visitor enters an impressive glass nave, designed as an interior passage flowing towards the diverse sectors of activity offered by the museum: near the entryway, the museum library, bookstore, the auditorium, educational services; on either side of the nave, the temporary and permanent exhibition rooms.