Waterfront: March 2007 - Repurposed Piscine

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French pool gets second life as a museum.

Searching for a way to preserve a beautiful municipal swimming pool in Roubaix, France, the community chose to create La Piscine, part of the Roubaix Museum of Art and Industry. The indoor facility, built in 1932, is an art deco palace, and the former pool room is decorated with sculptures, porcelain and large stained-glass windows at both ends.

The pool was closed in 1985 for safety reasons, but the whole building underwent an extensive refurbishment in 2001 that emphasized preservation of its original art deco character. The Museum opened later that year to present a collection of paintings, sculpture, drawings, graphic design, fashion, ceramics, and particularly textiles, which the region was known for in the early 20th century.

A selection of beaux-arts pieces is displayed around the central pool, including works by Ingres, Fantin-Latour, Lempicka and Claudel, as well as some local artists. Other exhibits are housed in former changing rooms and shower cubicles, reflecting the particular heritage of Roubaix and the Nord-pas-de-Calais region, including several thousand fabric-sample books from French factories dating from 1835-1940.

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