7 March 2022

The Fondation Mansart supports the Terra Sancta Museum !


The news of the support by the Fondation Mansart for the construction project of the Terra Sancta Museum was of 2021! Specialized in the conservation and promotion of the heritage for more than fifteen years, it puts its network and competences on fund-raising at the service of our museum. We met Alexis Robin, general director of the Fondation Mansart, to know more about this engagement and the reasons for it.

Hello, Alexis. First of all, can you tell us how the Fondation Mansart learnt about the Terra Sancta Museum (TSM) and what was the reason for this collaboration?

Our link with the TSM is Béatrix Saule [1], with whom Albéric de Montgolfier, President of the Foundation, had already worked on different projects. Then, the exhibition “Treasure of the Holy Sepulchre” at the Château of Versailles, in 2013, allowed our team to discover the quality of the collections of the Franciscans of the Holy Land. So that when Béatrix Saule came back to us with this project of a museum which was being created, Albéric de Montgolfier immediately spoke to me about it. For him, it was a unique opportunity for the Foundation to support a large project with French collections of great quality and which no longer exist in France.

In the context of this collaboration, you all came to Jerusalem last November. What memory do you have of this visit? What marked you at this meeting with the Terra Sancta Museum and the Franciscans of the Holy Land?

The most striking concerning he museum was to be able to discover and measure the size and the quality of the collections. Personally, I had no idea that the works could be of such a quality and, with Albéric de Montgolfier, we were amazed by all the gifts that had been offered by European courts. I had never seen such beautiful liturgical vestments, for example, The second noteworthy point was to realize how strongly anchored the Franciscan community is in Jerusalem and the social role it plays. It is really present at all stages of life whether it is for schools, religious life, social accompaniment or offering housing. And the fact that St Saviour’s Convent is in the Old City gives this project even deeper roots. We are in a site in the heart of the Old City of Jerusalem, two steps away from the Holy Sepulchre, and that is quite exceptional.

Was there a work that made the greatest impression on you on your visit?

The work with the most striking history in my opinion is the organ of Bethlehem with the bells. The fact of having found these instruments by chance during the archaeological excavations in the last century and that we can rediscover the music and the sounds of the Middle Ages thanks to that, is just extraordinary, I think. Their history is fascinating and I can’t wait both to see how the organ will be displayed in the museum and hear the replica being played if it can be made to work.

Let’s return to the action of the Fondation Mansart. Which networks do you work with to support the Terra Sancta Museum? How do you present this project to them and, so far, how has it been globally received?

We effectively contact several circles. First of all, there is the natura network of the Foundation, i.e. all the donors who usually accompany us on all our projects (château of Maintenon, château of Bagatelle, etc.). We also went to seek out another support, considering the exceptional character of the museum: that of France. Lastly because Jerusalem is exceptional from all points of view, we approached a third circle of patrons, a certain number of whom have already promised us some donations.

Very simply, I present the project to them as being the unique challenge of creating the frst museum of Christian art in Jerusalem, which will answer the museums of Jewish and Muslim art. The three monotheistic religions will this be represented and this idea of balance makes a great impression on people. This museum will also be the occasion to present 800 years of the history and presence of the Franciscans in the Holy Land. This is completely new and justifies the fact that today they have such a considerable treasure. All this makes it a museum which has a strong historical sense. This project arouses great excitement. Jerusalem is a major landmark for all of us, whether it is spiritual, historical or geographical, and I am very pleased to see the emotion that this creates in very different profiles, believers or non-believers alike. I am thinking of the Swiss Evergéte Foundation. Originally contacted for a simple presentation of the project, their enthusiasm was such that they immediately proposed sponsoring the mother-of-pearl room.  Jerusalem is a subject that unites.

(Translated from French by Joan Rundo)

Thanks to the support of the Fondation Mansart, the protected Foundation Amici Terrae Sanctae, dedicated in particular to the funding of the museum, has been able to see the light of day in France. To know more about it click here.

[1] Curator and former director of the Château of Versailles. Director of the Scientific Committee of the historic section of the TSM.

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