Fondation Jardin Majorelle’s Research Library, Morocco – located in the musée Yves Saint Laurent

Written by Juan Palao Gómez

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Fondation Jardin Majorelle’s Research Library

The library of the Fondation Jardin Majorelle — located in the musée Yves Saint Laurent marrakech— is a research centre welcoming a broad range of users: Moroccan and foreign researchers, anthropologists, historians, archaeologists, curators, artists and university students. The library is accessible, by appointment, to any person expressing an interest in its holdings.

The library’s holdings are composed of varied but complementary volumes -in French, Arabic or English- dating from the 17th to 21st century. These holdings include a large collection of books depicting the history of Morocco through its different eras and civilisations: the Almoravides, the Almohades, the Merinides, the Saadians, the Alaouis and not to forget the French Protectorate. Through this collection is showcased the influence that these civilisations had on Morocco.

Among the library’s shelves, you will also find books about Morocco’s geography, culture, craftsmanship, architecture etc. In addition to that, there are numerous ethnological, historical, anthropological, philological or sociological studies concerning the Berber people (Imazighen).

The library’s holdings also include an important collection of books devoted to gardens, landscaping and botany donated by Mr. Madison Cox —the president of the Fondation and a landscape designer who contributed to the conservation and reconditioning of the Jardin Majorelle— as well as volumes concerning Yves Saint Laurent, fashion and contemporary art.

About the Fondation Jardin Majorelle

Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé were the start of what is today the Fondation Jardin Majorelle.

Arriving in Marrakech in the 1960’s, the couple first purchased Dar el Hanch (House of the Serpent) in the medina before moving in Dar Es Saada in 1974, a colonial style house on the outskirts of the painter Jacques Majorelle’s villa and garden. When they got wind of the selling of the Jardin Majorelle and the Villa Oasis to a real estate agency in 1980, they didn’t hesitate to acquire it and preserve it from destruction. The garden was reopened to the public (as was Jacques Majorelle’s wish since 1947), greatly and continuously renovated and conditioned in the 80’s and 90’s to accommodate an increasing number of visitors. Since then, the garden has become today the most visited place in Morocco with more than 1 million visitors per year.

When in 2002, Yves Saint Laurent announced the end of his career, the maison de couture Yves Saint Laurent became the Fondation Yves Saint Laurent-Pierre Bergé (today Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent), an institution whose purpose is the conservation and the continuation of Yves Saint Laurent’s oeuvre. Concomitantly, a Fondation Jardin Majorelle is created with a legal ground in Morocco to accompany the development of the Jardin Majorelle and the safeguarding of the ecologic, cultural and historical heritage that the garden represents.

With the passing of Yves Saint Laurent in 2008, the Jardin Majorelle becomes the propriety of the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, and since then, different projects were undertaken to expand even more this effort of patrimonialization. First, a Berber Museum was opened in 2011 in the old workshop of Jacques Majorelle, which was designed by the architect Paul Sinoir in 1931.

The Berber Museum’s aim is to retrace the history of the Berbers or Imazighen and pay homage to their culture and craftsmanship.

The idea to create a museum in Marrakech solely dedicated to the work of Yves Saint Laurent first sprouted in 2010, when a temporary exhibition entitled “Yves Saint Laurent and Morocco” was held in the Jardin Majorelle. This exposition had such a big success that in 2014 a land from which will soon emerge the actual mYSLm was purchased just a few steps away from the garden. For the design of this museum, Pierre Bergé solicited Studio KO, two French architects, with a request of making a “structure both contemporary and profoundly Moroccan”. True to Pierre Bergé’s words, the building the architects designed is a mix between curves and straight lines heavily inspired by Yves Saint Laurent’s sketches and creations, with a façade that evokes lace patterns and fabric.

The mYSLm, inaugurated in 2017 along with the Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, houses a permanent exhibition space devoted to the work of Yves Saint Laurent, a hall for temporary exhibitions, a 150-seat auditorium, a bookshop, a terrace café and a research library.

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