On March 21, the highly-anticipated Joan of Arc History Museum (Historial Jeanne d'Arc) opens to visitors in Rouen, France. The €10 million ($10.6m) project combines a state-of-the-art, immersive exhibition space with comprehensive historical content, transporting visitors back to Middle Ages and enabling them to explore the myth and legend of France’s national heroine
Although, commonly referred to as the Maid of Orléans, Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc) was actually burned at the stake in 1431 in Rouen. She was later exonerated, posthumously, after a second trial in Rouen in 1456 and, today, is considered a French heroine as well as a Catholic Saint. The Joan of Arc History Center is housed in a magnificent, 15th century archbishop’s palace, adjacent to the cathedral, where both of the trials took place. Joan of Arc’s legacy lives on in Rouen; especially in Place du Vieux Marché, where she met her fate has a church in her honor.
Construction and renovation on the archbishop’s palace, for the museum project, began in 2013 and was developed by a team of internationally renowned historians, museum specialists and museum design agencies. A film production company worked in collaboration with local actors and Rouen Opera’s costume department, to create fictional documentaries that will form part of the visitor experience. One stand-out aspect of the new museum casts tourists as witnesses to Joan of Arc’s trials, where a hologram of Juvénal des Ursins, the ecclesiastic and judge, depicts her exoneration procedures. In another exhibition space, visitors explore the myths and legends surrounding France’s most famous female protagonist. In addition, visitors will be able to discover the palace’s Roman and Gothic crypts, its 15th century tower and the 18th century Aubigné chapel and, when not in use, the state room. Museum visits will be conducted in groups (up to twenty-five people per group and four groups per hour). Audio guides will be available in different languages and an educational center will be available for both school groups and families.