Our history

Art Nouveau: A Quintessentially European Movement 
Jugendstil, Modern Style, Glasgow Style, Secession, Nieuwe Kunst, Stile Liberty, Ecole de Nancy, Modernisme – these are all different facets of an essentially pan – European cultural phenomenon: Art Nouveau. Emerging at the turn of the century, the Art Nouveau trend was driven by a particular set of aesthetic ideals and an enthusiasm for modernity, exploiting the possibilities offered by the industrial technologies and the new materials, and combining an aspiration to beauty with meticulous workmanship and a scrupulous eye for detail. The result was a wonderful concordance of architecture, furniture, and decoration. 

An Endangered Heritage? 
Having languished for decades in oblivion, Art Nouveau is once again in fashion and apparently well protected. But appearances can be deceptive: as well as the major examples of the movement’s output, the importance of which is universally acknowledged, there are large numbers of remarkable creations that remain unknown to the public, enjoy scant protection, or have actually been destroyed. In addition, the tardiness with which protection measures are being implemented in certain countries is placing large numbers of important items associated with the movement in jeopardy. 

A Committed and Enterprising European Network 
In 1999, following an idea mooted by the Brussels Region Department of Historic Sites and Monuments, a large group of institutions from various European cities with a rich Art Nouveau heritage – from Helsinki to Barcelona, and from Glasgow to Budapest – decided to come together to form an initial European co-operation network. Research, conservation, and proper exposure are the key objectives of the ambitious programme which the Réseau Art Nouveau Network has set itself for the coming years. Enterprise and commitment are the Network’s chief hallmarks; as well as championing a rigorously scientific approach, it aims to keep professionals informed and to make the general public aware of the cultural significance and European dimension of this heritage on our very own doorstep. … A common initiative which, besides the co-financing of the European Commission of four successive European projects, obtained an international recognition of its 14 years of cooperation by receiving the jury’s special mention of the Europa Nostra awards 2013 and becoming a Cultural Route of the Council of Europe in 2014!

Project 4: Art Nouveau & Ecology (2010-2015), with the support of the Culture 2007-2013 programme of the European Commission 
Through this new five-year project, the Réseau Art Nouveau Network wishes to continue its present activities as well as increasing the European general public awareness of currrent issues: the importance of ecology from the Art nouveau period to now, Art Nouveau & sustainable development, the effects of climate on Art Nouveau buildings.

The travelling exhibition « The Nature of Art Nouveau », allows the general public to observe the Art Nouveau materials at the various steps of processing, from raw state to the work of art. This innovative exhibition will travel in all participating cities from October 2013 and in other European cities after the end of the project. The opening took place in Helskinki on 4 October 2013.

The project also included the celebration of the network 10th anniversary through an international symposium taking place in Brussels on 4 and 5 December 2010 on the topic « Perception of Art Nouveau ».

Five historical labs are planned during the project :

The labs, study days offering to the public the possibility to exchange knowledge and know-how, combine researches, practical knowledge and experiences, and the topics can attract the great public as well as professionals. The programme, the proceedings and digital recordings of conferences are available online.  

For children, educational books introduce Art Nouveau in a playful way as well as increasing their awareness of current ecological issues. The young public can also discover new activities online, here again on the ecology topic, in the Children section of our website.

The multilateral exchanges provide to all Art Nouveau professionals in Europe the opportunity to exchange their knowledge and experiences. During this project, the exchanges focus on key-subjects for the European Union, especially ecology and volunteering:

  • The role of NGO in Art Nouveau (Barcelona, 2011)
  • Listed buildings, protection policies and financial support throughout the European Union (Brussels, 2010 and Helsinki, 2013)
  • The preservation of Art Nouveau in a changing environment (Ålesund, March 2014)

The innovation lab of the project includes the publication of a “good practices” manual aimed at professionals involved in diffusion of Art Nouveau heritage in general and at museum and monuments staff in particular who will be able to use it as a guide in the promotion and diffusion of AN heritage to visually impaired public. A feasibility study for the creation of a specialised Art Nouveau educational Malette containing elements with which visually impaired public can gain a better knowledge of Art Nouveau heritage will also be developed.

Project leader : Direction of Monuments and Sites of the Brussels-Capital Region (BE) 
Co-organizing cities: Ålesund (NO), Aveiro (PT), Bad Nauheim (DE), Barcelona (ES), Bruxelles-Brussel (BE), Helsinki (FI), Ljubljana (SL), Nancy (FR), Regione Lombardia (IT), Rīga (LV), Terrassa (ES). 
Associated partners : Glasgow (UK), La Chaux-de-Fonds (CH), La Habana Vieja (CU).

Project 3: Art Nouveau & Society (2005-2008)
Under the title ‘Art Nouveau & Society’, the Network has devised a pluri-annual programme of actions to be realized under three structures: Innovation Labs, Historical Labs and Exchange Platforms. The core feature is a multimedia presentation entitled: ‘Art Nouveau & Society’, examining European Art Nouveau and its social, political and economic context, linking cities in the past and present. The presentation is designed to be a permanent tool for the partners, allowing them to promote their heritage as an expression of their unity with the rest of Europe. The research and iconography gathered at the Historical Labs are included.In total six plenary meetings and Historical Labs take place during the period 2005-2008:

The Historical Labs aim to establish an exchange platform of knowledge and know-how for those in and outside RANN. The content is a mix of research, practical knowledge and experience to reflect an agenda that aims to attract members of the general public as well as those working in the sector. The Innovation Labs include an educational package for educators and school children (including a new publication on Monstersactivity sheetsactivities on-line and teachers’ sessions), a project for the visually impaired public and an Art nouveau guide through mobile phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs). The Multilateral exchanges provide the opportunity for those working in the Art Nouveau cultural heritage sector to exchange their knowledge and experience across Europe on three specific subjects:

  • Tourism and Art Nouveau (Ljubljana,14 March 2006)
  • Education and Art Nouveau (Provincia di Varese, 8 May 2007)
  • Art Nouveau Interpretation Centres (Nancy, 23 October 2007)

Partner cities: Ålesund, Barcelona, Bruxelles-Brussel, Bad Nauheim, Glasgow, Helsinki, La Chaux-de-Fonds, La Habana Vieja, Ljubljana, Lodz, Nancy, Provincia di Varese, Regione Lombardia, Reus, Riga, Tbilisi, Terrassa, Wien and Ecole d’Avignon as technical partner. 

Project 2: Art Nouveau in Progress (2001-2004)
A key feature during this phase was the exhibition ‘Art Nouveau in Progress’ and its catalogues. It was created as a very different event from the large exhibitions, which have successfully celebrated the Art Nouveau movement over the last few years. The aim of the exhibition is to explore the destiny of the Art Nouveau heritage in the thirteen cities and brings to light a number of examples of previously unknown projects: examples hitherto unseen or now disappeared, not acknowledged in their day or undergoing restoration. It also shows how the buildings have changed and been adapted to fit in our contemporary life one century later. The exhibition is presented successively in each of the partner cities, each host city featuring its own local extension of the event, showing current restoration projects for its Art Nouveau heritage.

During this second phase of the Network, colloquia were held in Wien (Oct. 2002) and Ålesund (Oct. 2004), both centered around the same theme as the exhibition and allowed researchers and European professionals to share their experiences and thoughts for the future.  

Furthermore, an awareness campaign for the youth was launched 2003-2004 with four publications, a series of posters, guided tours for the schools and a very appreciated handbook for interactive visits- all of which are available on this website. 

Partner cities: Ålesund, Barcelona, Bruxelles-Brussel, Glasgow, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Nancy, Provincia di Varese, Reus, Riga, Terrassa, Wien and Ecole d’Avignon as technical partner. 

Project 1: Launch phase (1999-2000)
Following an idea mooted by the Brussels Capital Region Department of Historic Sites and Monuments, a large group of institutions from various European cities with a rich Art Nouveau heritage decided to come together to form an initial European co-operation network. 

During this first phase of the Network the structure of the cooperation between the member cities was established; responsibilities delegated during several plenary meetings, the website was created, the graphical identity was chosen, the image bank was launched, the publication ‘Art Nouveau in Europe today – A general appraisal’was edited, the presentation kit was exhibited in different public spaces, etc. 

Partner cities: Ålesund, Barcelona, Bruxelles-Brussel, Budapest, Glasgow, Helsinki, Ljubljana, Nancy, Palermo, Reus, Riga, Terrassa, Wien and Ecole d’Avignon as technical partner.