Tautavel Prehistory Museum - European Centre for Prehistoric Research
The museum collections
The Tautavel Prehistory Museum mainly preserves the elements of the ancient Paleolithic coming from the Caune de l’Aragoa major archaeological site located 3 km from Tautavel. Scientific excavations began there in 1964 and are still going on.
In particularly, the museum presents 152 remains of individuals from the Caune de l'Arago, emblematic fossils of Tautavel.
Discovery of the Tautavel Man (-450 000 years old) by Professor de Lumley's teams
Creation of the first museum
Expansion of the museum and addition of a conservation and study space
Creation of a public cultural cooperation establishment (EPCC)
Tautavel public cultural cooperation establishment (EPCC)
The museum is supported by the Tautavel public cultural cooperation establishment (EPCC) which associates the municipality of Tautavel, the urban community of Perpignan, the University of Perpignan Via Domitia (UPVD), the National Museum of Natural History, the CEA, alternativesthe Occitanie region, the French State (Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Higher Education and Research) and soon the Pyrénées Orientales.
The Tautavel public cultural cooperation establishment (EPCC) is not only a leading museum, but also:
- an research center contributing to the museum identity, involving permanent researchers supported by the EPCC through the sharing of tools (technical platforms, laboratories…),
- in connection with excavation sites to which the EPCC provides with administrative support,,
- an molding workshop with recognized and unique know-how in high quality archaeological molding (objects and excavated soil) which contributes to the EPCC's international reputation,
- an insertion workshop with very positive results..
Few figures about the museum
of permanent exhibition space on 2 floors and 21 rooms
several million in storage
visitors in 2021
(closed from january to may)
20 activities and events per year
1 temporary exhibition per year, daily workshops during school vacations
5 seasonal workers or interns
20 research staff
(researchers, technicians, PhD students)
12 people participating in the insertion workshop
The museum renovation project
Why renovate the museum?
The museum has acquired a considerable notoriety and a scientific recognition which makes Tautavel mecca of Prehistory.
Prehistory is also a general public and family topic able to reach residents and visitors in the Pyrénées Orientales and their surroundings.
However, the museum is aging and does not play anymore the role of a major touristic asset in the area, nor guarantees the conditions of exposure, conservation and research required considering the actual norms..
The Occitanie Region, the EPCC membres and the Pyrénées-Orientales wish a deep renovation of the museum to make it a reference both in France and at the international scale in order to reinforce and consolidate the attractivity of the area. This new project must allow the museum, once renovated, to restore and enhance the number of visitors and promote its noticeable collections at international scale – as the Narbo Via museum also supported by the Occitanie Region.
Launch of a pre-programming study
A pre-programming study for the Tautavel museum renovation has been given to In Extenso. This study is in progress :
- Phase 1 (July 2020-February 2021): diagnosis, stakes and projet positioning definition
- Phase 2 (April 2021-April 2022): scenarios and a programmatic outline
- Phase 3 (in progress, May 2022-December 2022): establish a pre-program and study the detailed feasibility
- Phase 4 (first half of 2023): write the detailed technical program
The scientific orientations of the future museum
Several complementary themes will be developed in the museographic program. These themes are linked to the Caune de l'Ararago site and collections, a reference for the ancient Paleolithic and an extraordinary archaeological site, as well as other collections collected at Tautavel.
The main themes that will be addressed are:
- environments and human-environment relations (by presenting climate cycles, the components of an ecosystem, fossil biodiversity, the place of humans within the living world);
- the first settlements of Europe (by evoking the origin of the human lineages and the chronology of their diffusion);
- Paleolithic cultures and lifestyles (tools and other cultural practices);
- the methods of research in Prehistory (by presenting the diversity and the complementarity of the various methods implemented from excavation to
- the Prehistory history (by presenting several high places of Occitanie Region which contributed to the recognition of Prehistory and to the progress of research);
- the way we look at prehistoric societies and their evolution over time.
A link with the Bélesta castle-museum
The rapprochement between the Tautavel Prehistory Museum - European Center for Prehistoric Research and the Bélesta castle-museum in a single administrative establishment will allow a better promotion of Prehistory in the Pyrénées Orientales..
Towards an extension of the Tautavel Prehistory Museum
The development of services (visit, reception and services to the visitors, conservation and research,...) lead to consider an extension of the museum.
Several sites could be selected for the renovation of the museum or even be combined :
- an in situ renovation with a total redesign of the existing premises,
- a new construction on the site called "Las Planes" at the entrance of the town on the Estagel road,
- the takeover of the cooperative cellar premises next to the current museum.