Culture is future » Territorial attractiveness and social cohesion


Article – Lascaux, even bigger, and more available !

After the creation of Lascaux II and III, the Dordogne starts the Lascaux IV project. A largest part of the cave is going to be reproduced and will thus allow a bigger visit for the public. This project is going to allow at the same time an extension in the transfer of knowledge on the parietal art but also the better tourist visibility in the region Aquitaine.

The project has started ! A steering committee State, region Aquitaine and Dordogne department was set up on Thursday, November 10th, 2011 to prefigure the future international center of parietal art on the site of the cave of Lascaux, named Lascaux 4. The purpose was to realize here a complete facsimile of the famous cave dating 18600 (Lascaux 2 presents only a part).

By 2015, the visitors will go down in a place reproducing the room of bulls, axial diverticule, the passage, the apse and the nave. Other remarkable places, as the Scene of the well and the cabinet of the big cats which are difficult to access, will be restored by digital means in three dimensions. The objective is to open the site during the summer 2015.

The discovery of the caves of Lascaux isn't recent but from many years, a lot of scientific and architectural overhangs take place and allow more and more the public, the accessibility to caves and to their history. The adventure begins September 8th, 1940 when Marcel Ravidat and his friends discovers the entrance of the cavity during a walk in the city of Montignac in Dordogne.

Analyzed by a lot of specialists, the caves of Lascaux are classified in conformance with historic monuments in December of the year which follows their discovery. In 1948, the access to the cave is fitted out to allow tourist visits whose number was growing up and put in danger the preservation of the parietal representations. The first signs of change were noticed in 1955 : they are due to an excess of carbon dioxide provoked by the breath of the visitors. In April, 1963, André Malraux, who was then Minister of the Cultural affairs, decided to forbid the access of Lascaux to the general public. A few years later, in October 1979, the cave is registered on the UNESCO world heritage..

At the beginning of 1970s, the realization of a facsimile of a part of the cave was implemented but opened to the public only in 1983: it was the birth of Lascaux II. In 2003, the General Council of the Dordogne asked to the plastic technician Renaud Sanson to realize  facsimiles of scenes representing in the nave of Lascaux, gallery not represented in Lascaux II. From July to December, 2008, the exhibition Lascaux revealed so called Lascaux III and coming from Renaud Sanson's works, presented these new facsimiles to the public of the Dordogne. To allow bigger visits, the construction site of Lascaux IV started.

 Architects' competition began in the second quarter 2012 to start the work programmed two years later, in 2014. The delivery of application files ended (with more than 160 proposals come from the whole world). Four teams were chosen on May 4th of this year and the final prize-winner was indicated in October. 400 000 visitors per year are expected in Lascaux IV against 250 000 in Lascaux 2. The cost is estimated at 43,5 million euro HT and  is equally financed by three partners. The General Council of the Dordogne hopes to obtain the project ownership and to gain the competition.

Lascaux IV is an exemplary project in terms of valuation of an international site and of diffusion of elements of knowledge and interpretation on the parietal art. Lascaux is a central place among the cultural and tourist offers of the Valley of Vézère. It is thus important to promote the image of the cave of Lascaux, the Dordogne and the Region Aquitaine on the international tourist and cultural scene and to become a key place in regards to the presentation of the parietal art.

The caves of Lascaux are both a center of scientific research and a playful place with the new technologies as the 3D for example.

To sum up, Lascaux IV makes the visitors feel authentic emotion of the discovery of the cave and understand the social, cultural and environmental context in which it was built. Before the beginning of the construction site of Lascaux IV, the rumors already run as for the creation of Lascaux V, a facsimile everything in 3D which at this level, would totally answer to one of the main objectives of this place of exception: a democratization of the culture, some art and the history.


A contribution of the University of Avignon, by Manon Mazon