Hélène Guenin Pt II: "Local structures are key actors for creative quarters"

Hélène Guenin is the head of curatorial department of the Centre Pompidou-Metz. When asked about creative quarters, she states that it takes the right mixture of locals, public funding and policies. 2010LAB.tv proudly presents part two of the the INTER.view with Mme Guenin. The first part can still be found here.

Enjoy the latest in our INTER.view series.

Last time we talked about the right mixture of  private and public funding and policies together with structures of residency programs, can you tell us a little bit about how this worked in Metz? 

The Centre Pompidou-Metz, a new cultural institution in France, has opened at a crucial time for the city, which is undergoing major economic and urban development. The museum is the first high impact project at the heart of a neighborhood that will be developed in the next decade right at the center of the city.

Prior to the Centre Pompidou-Metz’s inauguration in May 2010, a number of projects have paved the way and prepared the inhabitants to the cultural change that such a project would bring.

Step 1: A public project entitled “Constellation”, Spring 2009. 20 exhibitions and 35 events all relating and integrated to the city, proposed a path of discovery of sites of the 20th Century architectural patrimony. The project brought together local cultural producers, non-profit organizations and fine arts universities.

Step 2: When the Centre Pompidou-Metz opened in Spring 2010, a number of public and participatory projects diffused the creative impulse into the fabric of the city, engaging inhabitants to partake in the events (performance, concerts, public art installations, etc.)

Step 3: in July 2010, the Centre Pompidou-Metz carried “Imaginez Maintenant”, a four-day interdisciplinary project for young talents. This project gathered emerging visual artists, performers, architects, product designers, landscape and even culinary designers, and took place directly vicinity of the district bordering the museum. The intention was to reflect upon the city’s usage, to gather energies and together experiment the development of the city, striving to create Temporary Artistic Zones.

How are local cultural stakeholders acting in a creative quarter – be it in a negative or positive way? What role is a creative quarter playing subsequently in building or preserving local democracy?

The local structures are key actors in this global consideration of the creative quarter. They contribute proposals, develop new projects and create a bridge between the public sphere and the inhabitants. They contribute through their involvement and the invitation of artists or designers to change the entire image and attractiveness of a quarter and more generally of a city. 

Please name and shortly describe one successful creative quarter you know.

For example: “Ville +” launched in 2009 by the City of Paris develops in the 20th arrondissement, creative workshops aimed at “recreating” the city by gathering urban planners, artists, architects, graphic designers, etc. Taking a radically different approach than grand architectural projects, these workshops take form of interdisciplinary think tanks. Their mission is to take into consideration the unique framework of this district, its geographic imbrications in the city, the historical, economic and social fabric that composes it, to propose tactical solutions for community building. Adapted and thorough urban case studies are a key to a successful, and most importantly, meaningful project.



Interviewee’s profile


  • Name: Hélène Guenin
  • Current occupation: Head of curatorial department
  • Three crucial turning points in your professional life: Casino Luxembourg – Center for Contemporary arts - Prefiguration and preparation of the opening and program of Frac Lorraine (Center for contemporary art in Metz, Lorraine, France) – Prefiguration, preparation of the opening and program of Centre Pompidou-Metz
  • The three most important regions in the structural process of transformation are:  I would quote Vienna, Austria (MuseumsQuartier Wien and experiments such as Paracity) / Liverpool (Tate) as achieved projects. Metz, Marseille and Lens are three examples of urban development connected to the creation of museums.
  • Which issue is vital for you: to weave the transformation of a quarter and the introduction of a creative dimension in a wider process and and to always keep as an aim the search for meaning.
Photo (top): Centre Pompidou-Metz, mai 2010 © Shigeru Ban Architects Europe et Jean de Gastines Architectes, avec Philip Gumuchdjian Architects pour la conception du projet lauréat du concours / Metz Métropole / Centre Pompidou-Metz / Photo Philippe Gisselbrecht

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