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In 2023, the foundation will launch ARTEXPLORER, the first-ever museum boat that will sail the seas and oceans to share inspiring artistic experiences with new, international audiences.

The museum boat ARTEXPLORER

The ARTEXPLORER catamaran is an ambitious collective adventure that crosses continents to build connections between the arts and audiences, seeking new opportunities for artistic co-creation, participation and exchange. We believe that the ability to be mobile and agile is a powerful tool for exchanging stories and perspectives. Each journey will bring together artists, arts organisations, museums, non-profits and diverse audiences in a large-scale dialogue about the shared challenges of our contemporary societies.  

The Mediterranean is a cradle of civilization, with a history of trade, movement and exchange.

It is now, more than ever, a space that nurtures artists and feeds their inspiration – and it will provide the stage for our first voyage, from the autumn of 2023 to the autumn of 2025.

See you in Marseille in 2023 to be the first to board ARTEXPLORER !

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First voyage 2023-2025: MEDITERRANEAN DIALOGUES

The first itinerary of the ARTEXPLORER museum boat will cross the Mediterranean, a hub for stories and exchanges for thousands of years that has always nurtured and inspired artists, as well as sparked spontaneous intercultural dialogues.
ARTEXPLORER gives the floor to artists, curators and other cultural and social players to draw a picture of the Mediterranean today. Cultures, histories (writ large and small), diverse communities, mythologies, migrations, women’s rights, environmental issues, heritage, social challenges, education, democracies…. These shared concerns will run through the programming in every port.

The visions of artists of all ages, origins and practices, in conversation with diverse audiences, will form the basis for new Mediterranean stories, as well as cultural dialogues and encounters.

More than 15 countries will take part in this collective adventure from the autumn of 2023 to 2025. The museum boat will travel round the entire Mediterranean basin, from the Maghreb to the Middle East, visiting some 20 ports in two years.

ARTEXPLORER will make one or two stops in each country, connecting with ports of various sizes, demographics and a range of social contexts and demographics.

The first ports

• Marseille
• Sète
• Tirana - Dürres
• Rijeka
• Málaga
• Athens - Piraeus
• Naples
• Venice
• Beirut
• Tunis
• Tangiers
• Lisbon
• Malta - Valletta …

The architecture behind THE PROJECT

The shipyard with Axel de Beaufort: an architectural challenge

The ARTEXPLORER catamaran, 46.5m long and 55m high, can welcome up to 2,000 people on board every day. It was designed by Axel de Beaufort and Guillaume Verdier.
It is being built in the Admiral Yachts shipyards in Italy and is due to be completed in the summer of 2023.
It is being built in accordance with stringent environmental and technological criteria. It is registered under the French flag.

"Just imagining the biggest catamaran
in the world was an exciting challenge in itself. Building a museum boat of these dimensions – 46.5 m long, capable of receiving 2,000 visitors – represents a peerless architectural and naval project that I am extremely happy to lead, alongside our naval architects and designers. We are approaching this aquatic museum
as a veritable work of art, and its construction is bringing together materials, craftsmanship and technical expertise of the highest level."

Axel de Beaufort, naval architecture and design

Wilmotte & Associates Architects: innovation and modularity

An international competition was launched in November 2021 to select an architectural firm to make the quayside exhibition spaces. The travelling temporary architecture has been conceived as a bridge between the host city and the boat. The exhibition space will be treated as an extension of the boat, matching not only the boat’s design and futuristic spirit but also the nature of the host cities and the programming. Apart from being transportable and modular, the space will be open and welcoming, simple and adaptable, durable and ecologically responsible.
This specialist competition, divided into two stages with one oral presentation, attracted more than ten international firms. Wilmotte & Associates Architects came up with an innovative and modular project that was lively, original and visually attractive, with spaces well-suited to the exploration of all types of art.

"An innovative travelling exhibition space that will enable art to go out and meet the people."

Jean-Michel WILMOTTE, architect

Environmental targets at every stage of the project:


Environmental issues will play a prominent role in this project and underlie the two years spent travelling in the Mediterranean.
The ARTEXPLORER museum boat is a sailing catamaran that will also be fitted with solar panels to cover some of its energy requirements.
The temporary, modular village created by Wilmotte & Associates will consist of recycled containers; these will serve not only to welcome the public but also to store the exhibition when it is being transported (by rail or by sea). The carbon footprint will thus be significantly reduced – in fact, it will be offset, primarily by supporting projects in the Mediterranean.
The wood used in the interiors will come from certified forests and have a biosourced ecolabel, while the exhibitions’ production workshops will all be certified as carbon neutral. All the interior spaces will be ventilated by natural convection, in keeping with the project’s minimalist philosophy. Each stage of the route will be meticulously planned in order to implement the best possible practices and limit the social, financial and environmental impact.

An unforgettable artistic experience
ON BOARD, ON THE QUAYSIDE, IN THE CITY

On board the boat: an immersive, sensorial journey

Once onboard, the public will be invited to participate in an immersive, sensorial artistic experience divided into various stages. The boat is equipped to receive more than 2,000 visitors every day.

An immersive educational exhibition presented by the Louvre Museum “Icons! Images, discourses and representations of women in the Mediterranean”

In collaboration with the Louvre, the ARTEXPLORER museum boat will present an exhibition entitled, “Icons! Images, discourses and representations of women in the Mediterranean”. This exhibition will reflect on female representation and the specific characteristics of masterpieces displayed in museums, and on monuments, throughout the Mediterranean, as well as examining women’s roles in artistic production from ancient times to the present. It is curated by Noëmi Daucé, the curator of the Louvre’s Oriental Antiquities department. In order to create links between different collections, this exhibition will also involve collaborations with other Mediterranean museums (whose names will be announced shortly).
The exhibition onboard the boat will feature two different audiovisual formats:

• A thematically linked educational documentary will be screened on the rear deck.
• A sensorial presentation will take place in the gallery, immersing visitors in settings as if they had been transported right into the artworks.

A sonic voyage across the Mediterranean with the Ircam


On the upper deck, visitors will find a sonic project that will use the immersion and spatialisation technology that the Ircam has been developing for more than 30 years.
Travel around the Mediterranean onboard the ARTEXPLORER – without moving! Ircam Amplify will invite visitors to a sonic odyssey that explores a sensory experience of the Mediterranean through new soundscapes, both real and imaginary. This 12-minute binaural journey will enable visitors to close their eyes and be transported into the rich diversity of the Mediterranean.
This polymorphous sonic voyage will provoke a rewarding emotional and physical experience involving time, sharing and discovery that will be different for every visitor.

Observational residencies for artists and scientists


On every sea journey, ARTEXPLORER will welcome onboard artists-in-residence who will collaborate with scientists, researchers, thinkers and curators from the region. These short observational residencies will be organised in conjunction with Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary - TBA21. They will stimulate different visions of the various ecosystems and issues at stake in the Mediterranean, based on the observation of specific areas from the boat. This research will be presented on the quayside once ARTEXPLORER arrives at the next port.

Quayside exhibitions and cultural programmes for all

At every stage, ARTEXPLORER will reveal numerous artistic programmes and convivial spaces, designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte to create lively meeting points. These spaces can be easily adapted, and can provide a stage for artistic experiences. Collective exhibitions and multidisciplinary festivals (dance, music, film screenings, lectures...), planned in close collaboration with local institutions and curators, will showcase Mediterranean artists in every port and spark conversations between different generations, artistic disciplines and cultures.
These spaces can receive up to 10,000 visitors every day. They comprise:

• Exhibition pavilions
• Immersive, sensorial and digital pavilions
• An agora that can put on performances, concerts, film screenings and lectures
• Social areas with restaurants, playing areas, etc.

A multidisciplinary festival on the quayside and in the cities


In order to provide the public with an opportunity to discover the local scene, each country on the route will put on a 10-day multidisciplinary festival in its cities. An internationally acclaimed local curator will organise a cultural programme with performances, concerts, lectures, film screenings, workshops and other activities, revolving around subjects directly linked to the local context, the country’s artists and the Mediterranean.
This programme will be presented on the quayside and at iconic heritage sites across the city, in collaboration with local institutions. It will provide a platform for both internationally recognised artists and emerging talents, as well as thinkers, cultural leaders and community projects of all kinds. Together, they will explore the world of the Mediterranean today.

The first curators

In each country, a local curator will organise a wide-ranging cultural programme exploring themes directly connected to the local context, the country’s artists and the Mediterranean. The curators include:

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The first curators

In each country, a local curator will organise a wide-ranging cultural programme exploring themes directly connected to the local context, the country’s artists and the Mediterranean. The curators include:

LEBANON

Amanda Abi Khalil

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Amanda Abi Khalil is an independent curator who divides her time between Paris, Beirut and Rio de Janeiro. She is the founder of the Temporary Art Platform, devoted to public and social contextual practices in contemporary art. She has organised exhibitions in the CENTQUATREPARIS, the Paço Imperial in Rio de Janeiro and the Institut Français in Beirut.

CROATIA

Branka Benčić

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Branka Benčić is an art historian and exhibition curator based in Croatia. She is the director of the MMSU/MoMCA Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Rijeka. She was the curator of the Croatian Pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale and co-curator of the Croatian Pavilion at the 2018 Venice Biennale of Architecture. She has also organised exhibitions in the Zagreb Contemporary Art Museum, the Pula Film Festival, the Belgrade Contemporary Art Museum and the Garis & Hahn gallery.

TURKEY

Cerem Erdem

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Ceren Erdem is an exhibition curator based in Istanbul. She was the director of the Dirimart Gallery in Istanbul and exhibition director for the 9th and 10th Istanbul Biennales. She has also curated exhibitions in apexart, the Fondazione MAXXI, the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, the Wallach Art Gallery, the Pasinger Fabrik and the Seoul Art Space Geumcheon.

MOROCCO

Laila Hida

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Laila Hida is an artist and an independent curator based in Marrakech. She is the founder of LE 18, an independent platform for artistic and cultural creation, dissemination and exchanges in Marrakech. She has also taken part in exhibitions in Documenta Kassel, the Dakar Biennale and
the Fondation Dar Bellarj.

CYPRUS

The Island Club

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The Island Club is a non-profit exhibition space with a programme supervised by its founder, Christodoulos Panayiotou, an artist based between Limassol and Paris who represented Cyprus at the 2015 Venice Biennale. Since 2018, the space has put on exhibitions by local and international artists, as well as film screenings, performances, readings and book presentations.

FRANCE

Martha Kirszenbaum

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Martha Kirszenbaum is an exhibition curator and art critic based in Paris and
Los Angeles. She was the curator of the French Pavilion at the 2019 Venice Biennale (featuring Laure Prouvost) and she founded and ran Fahrenheit in Los Angeles. She has organised exhibitions in the ICA, the Palais de Tokyo, the Kistefos Museum, the Beirut Art Centre and the Pejman Foundation.

PORTUGAL

Filipa Oliveira

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Filipa Oliveira is an exhibition curator based in Lisbon. She has been the visual arts programmer and curator for the city of Almada since 2018.
She was the co-curator of the fourth Coimbra Biennale in 2021 and the artistic director of the Fórum Eugénio de Almeida in Évora from 2015 to 2017. She has also organised exhibitions in the Jeu de Paume and the São Paulo Biennale.

MALTA

The Spazju Kreattiv

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Spazju Kreattiv is a cultural centre run by the Fondazzjoni Kreattività in St James’s Bastion in Valletta. It organises a programme of cultural events under the banner of the Spazju Kreattiv Season, which embraces performances, arthouse film screenings, installations, artists’ residencies and activities for families.

ITALY

Eugenio Viola

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Eugenio Viola is an exhibition curator and art critic based in Bogotá. He is the head curator of the Bogotá Modern Art Museum and the curator of the Italian Pavilion for the 2022 Venice Biennale. He has also been a curator at the PICA in
Perth (2017-2019) and at another of the project’s creative partners, the MADRE
(Fondazione Donnaregina) in Naples (2009-2016), where Eugenio was responsible for numerous exhibitions.

ALBANIA

Arnisa Zeqo

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Arnisa Zeqo is an art historian, exhibition curator and teacher based in Amsterdam. She is the artistic director of Rongwrong, a space devoted to art and art theory. From 2015 to 2017, she was the head of educational programmes at documenta 14 in Athens, and she also began the Society of Friends of Ulises Carrion as part of the Parliament of Bodies public programme in Kassel.

Involving the public in every stage of the project

Open to all: putting the public first


Providing equal access to diverse publics presents substantial challenges. It demands commitment, in every aspect of a project, to overcome financial, social, geographical and psychological barriers in order to enable the greatest number of people possible to embark on these artistic adventures.
Art Explora experiments with new ways for the public to access and engage with arts and culture, to be seen and heard, and to play an active role, respecting our commitment to participation and interaction. Everyone involved must take an active part in an open conversation, far from notions
of the inaccessible artist or passive onlooker. The aim is to share and exchange new ideas with new audiences on a grand scale, before, during and after the experience on the boat.


A free event open to all


The ARTEXPLORER experience will be free and open to all, with content for all age groups in multiple languages.


Involving the public in advance through local organisations


Projects bringing together diverse communities will be created in collaboration with local organisations and institutions in the various ports, prior to the arrival of the boat. Young people, older people and those with disabilities, as well as people facing social, geographic and economic barriers, will all be invited to create and devise new content in a variety of formats: workshops, performances, podcasts... These contributions will all be part of the programme.

A collective adventure uniting enthusiasts throughout the Mediterranean

ARTEXPLORER brings together a wide range of partners from all different backgrounds: cultural institutions, artists, NGOs
and community projects, businesses and collectives. They all share a commitment to opening up arts and culture to everyone.


The Advisory Board

The Board brings scientific, technical and cultural expertise to the project. It forges a community of thinkers and players on the ground, drawn from the worlds of art and sciences, as well as from NGOs specialising in social and environmental issues. Their complementary fields of expertise will enrich the programming and direct the project towards local institutions and associations in the countries where the boat will stop.

• The Louvre Museum
• UNESCO
• Sophie Beau, Fabienne Lassalle et Sabine Grenard SOS MEDITERRANEE
• Robert Calcagno, Director of the Oceanographic Institute in Monaco
• Sandra Dagher , Curator and co-founder of the Beirut Art Centre
• Her Excellency Maha El Khalil Chalabi, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Director of the Tyr Foundation
• Victorien Erussard, Captain and founder of Energy Observer
• Maja Hoffmann, Founder and director of the Luma Foundation
• Hans Ulrich Obrist, Artistic director of the Serpentine Galleries
• Loïck Peyron, Sailor
• Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza et Markus Reymann TBA21
• Jordi Savall, Composer