A French arts organisation recently announced its latest plans for a luxury yacht valued at €32m to function as a seagoing museum. The vessel, which is a twin-hulled catamaran, is called Artexplorer, a nod to the organisation behind the scheme, Art Explora. Founded in 2019 with a mission statement that said it would seek to broaden access to arts, Art Explora was the brainchild of a French tech entrepreneur, Frédéric Jousset. According to Jousset, the catamaran is currently under construction in the port city of La Spezia in Italy. The museum-yacht should be completed at some point next year and will then set sail around the Mediterranean from its base of operations in Marseille from September 2023 onwards. According to Art Explora, the vessel will be among the very largest catamarans to have ever been constructed globally.
Measuring 46 metres from its bow to its stern, the catamaran may end up being smaller than most land-based museums. However, with a beam of 17.3 metres, the yacht will be wider than most and, as such, will be able to accommodate more than one viewing gallery depending on the internal arrangement of the vessel. What’s more, Artexplorer’s mast is said the be planned to rise 50 metres above the waves, so it will be able to travel around with nothing more than wind power in most conditions. A large sail has also been included in the design that will display the Art Explora logo.
The catamaran will be capable of accommodating up to 2,000 visitors in its museum section. Art Explora said that among the initial exhibits onboard the boat will be a documentary about the concept behind the yacht and its construction. An exhibition is already being curated for the floating museum that will be its inaugural digital show. According to Art Explora, this exhibition will explore the representation of women throughout the Mediterranean region.
Jousset said that the Mediterranean was instrumental in the trading of goods and the waging of war since antiquity. “Why not also utilise it as a means of conveying culture?” he asked. The founder of Art Explora went on to say that the concept meant fashioning a new type of museum that would never need to be tied down to a single point on the globe. “[This vessel will be able to]… go almost anywhere and it should also be capable of reinventing itself permanently,” he said.
The yacht is being built by the Italian Sea Group at the moment. It has been designed by a pair of expert designers, Axel de Beaufort and Guillaume Verdier, both of whom have prior experience with luxury interiors and racing yachts. However, Artexplorer is a very different kind of design. Not only does it have a large central area that will be the home of the museum but, in addition, it will boast five onboard cabins. According to the designers, this was a part of the brief because the cabins will be set aside for artists to use who will want to find inspiration on the boat as it sails around.
At the moment, some 15 different ports of call have been planned for Artexplorer’s first trip into the Mediterranean. Echoing something of the grand tours that were fashionable in the Romantic movement, the maiden voyage is said to be accompanied by a series of on-shore events that will feature pop-up pavilions and so on.
As well as the huge floating museum that Art Explora has in its pipeline, the arts organisation has hinted at plans for some other intriguing ways to bring about its mission since it launched. These include the concept of MuMo, a conversion idea that will turn a truck into a travelling museum. The organisation has also been in negotiations with the owners of a former airship hangar situated close to the French capital and whether it would be feasible to turn it into a grand exhibition space. According to Jousset, Art Explora is even thinking about ways it might turn a train into some kind of a touring gallery or museum, too.
About the author – Manuel Charr
Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.