On December 4, 2017, the Institut Pasteur officially unveiled the redesigned collection in its Salle des Actes. The founder and director of the International Museum of Modest Arts in Sète, Hervé Di Rosa, who attended the opening ceremony, was commissioned by the Institut Pasteur to use his artistic talents to redesign this display area. The cases in this room, a place that is steeped in history, now house a series of painted ceramics specially created by the artist to illustrate the men and women who have played and continue to play their part in making the Institut Pasteur what it is today. These original artworks are accompanied by artifacts and objects from the collections and archives of the Pasteur Museum.
An official opening ceremony was recently held for the redesigned display cases in the Salle des Actes (located in the historical Institut Pasteur building, home to the Pasteur Museum), which now feature a remarkable collection of painted ceramics specially created by Hervé Di Rosa. The artist, a member of the Organoid project and a keen advocate of the Institut Pasteur's work, came up with the idea of a scientific and artistic narrative that combines the history of Louis Pasteur and the men and women that succeeded him – together with their techniques and discoveries – with his own hybrid, multifaceted, fantastic artistic creations.
Hervé Di Rosa is one of the pioneers of the concept of "modest art", a term that accurately sums up the principle of humility underpinning his work. Modest art considers all objects as respectable and finds beauty in the most ordinary, everyday items. The International Museum of Modest Arts, which the artist set up in Sète, encourages dialog between high and popular culture. "It was this dialog that I wanted to illustrate with an original installation in this historical library at the Institut Pasteur," he explains. As he made regular visits to the Institut Pasteur over a three-year period, Hervé Di Rosa, fascinated by the Pasteur Museum, spent time in the scientific souvenir room and the Salle des Actes. "In the museum storage rooms, we were lucky enough to find objects and artifacts dating from the 19th century, the period when modest art was invented." The 19th century, which also witnessed the creation of the Institut Pasteur, was a key period for this artistic movement, with the emergence of industry resulting in the development of a host of everyday objects. It was in the "Salle des Actes", the Institut Pasteur's former library, that Hervé Di Rosa created his new scientific and artistic scenography. The artist produced a series of ceramics at the Portuguese factory "Viuva Lamego", founded in 1849, where he is currently based for the 19th stage of his Autour du Monde project*.
All 26 double display cases in the Salle des Actes have now been rearranged as part of a fascinating and informative new narrative, based on two main themes:
- Louis Pasteur himself – his life, scientific research, discoveries and medals;
- the groundbreaking scientists, research and discoveries at the Institut Pasteur since it was set up 130 years ago – illustrious and outstanding Pasteurians, Nobel laureates, discoveries, viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi, and scientific equipment (crystals, swan neck flasks, microscopes, etc.).
The inspiration for this project came from the collaboration and discussions between Hervé Di Rosa, Françoise Adamsbaum from the KEZA Gallery and Olivier Schwartz, Head of the Virus and Immunity Unit at the Institut Pasteur. The project was carried out by the Institut Pasteur's Department of Communications and Fundraising, Jean-François Chambon (Vice-President) and the team from the Pasteur Museum, Muriel Hilaire-Soule (Curator) with Olivier Schwartz, Hervé Di Rosa and his team, Jean Seisser and Françoise Adamsbaum.
*Since the early 1990s, Hervé Di Rosa has been traveling the world to explore how images are created in other countries and incorporating local techniques in his own creations.
Paul Valéry said: "What should we be without the help of that which does not exist?" This quotation shows the importance of imagination as the basis for all artistic creation. I think that Louis Pasteur might well have added: "What should we be without the knowledge of that which exists?" Because science has changed our lives. It's this dialog between art and science that Hervé Di Rosa's creation celebrates!
Erik OrsennaAmbassador for the Institut Pasteur
Come and see the redesigned Salle des Actes at the Institut Pasteur, featuring original works by contemporary French artist Hervé Di Rosa, on January 19 and February 12, 2018!
The Salle des Actes will open its doors to the public on January 19 and February 12, from 2.30 to 3.30pm (prior registration required), to give visitors a chance to see "In the Pasteur library with Hervé Di Rosa", a fascinating fusion of art and science.