The Liège alderman Georges Truffaut launches the Thermal Baths project. This includes two swimming pools, a bus station, a hydrotherapy section, adjoining offices, a café-restaurant and a dance hall. The modernist architect, Georges Dedoyard would be appointed after a competition with strict rules.
The Germans enter Liège. The war delays the works and the bombardment of the night of 25 May 1940 causes damage, 2,500 tiles on the translucent concrete arch would have to be replaced. A bomb shelter is built in the basement. In May 1940, during the works, this would house around thirty refugees.
The building is completed under Nazi occupation and opens to the public in May. Georges Truffaut, who had died in England a month previously would never see his project completed.
Considered as one of the most important creations of the inter-war modernist style, the La Sauvenière building adopts the shape of an ocean liner with majestic proportions. Inside, the most striking feature is the great hall with the pools which extends over 80 metres long and 10 metres high.
Dedoyard was inspired by the German artistic and architectural trend, Bauhaus. Elementary shapes - here the cube and the sphere - are emphasised and symmetry reigns. The bare walls, clean lines and the omnipresence of reinforced concrete and glass are all consistent with this essentially functionalist architecture.
La Sauvenière quickly enjoys immense success. Over 800,000 bathers would be recorded in 1943, a record year. The state-of-the-art swimming pools are equipped with suspension devices that can support 50 people learning to swim at the same time. A revolution!
The La Sauvenière sporting complex is created. Gyms, judo, fencing, wrestling, table tennis and boxing clubs are set up.
On the building’s ground floor, the bus station is operating at full strength. Waiting rooms, newspaper kiosks, hot-dog sellers, refreshment stalls... the commuter enjoys real comfort. 20 lines serve the building with 400 departures a day.
Right in the city centre, various schools attend the Thermal Baths every day. At the time, the entrance was on the Boulevard de la Sauvenière.
The Thermal Baths close for non-compliance with safety standards. The building is gradually abandoned and only a few facilities still operate.
At the instigation of the Territoires de la Mémoire non-profit association, the MNEMA non-profit association is created to manage the “Cité Miroir” project. In the same year, the building is partially classified as a Walloon Heritage Monument.
2009 – 2013
The refurbishment works were assigned to the Pierre Beugnier Design Office and Triangle Architectes. The change of function is radical: the venue must mature into a cultural space with space for exhibitions and an auditorium, all equipped with the latest, state-of-the-art technologies in terms of insulation, heating and lighting.
La Cité Miroir is opened. 22,000 visitors flock to its inaugural week.
La Cité Miroir has welcomed over 80,000 visitors a year since it opened.
Octobre 2014 - mars 2015
The first, large-scale exhibition “L’Art dégénéré selon Hitler” (Degenerate Art according to Hitler) reflects on the history of the sale in Lucerne in 1939 and its consequences. It is visited by 52,000 people.
The permanent exhibition by the Territoires de la Mémoire non-profit association opens at La Cité Miroir. Plus jamais ça ! (Never again!) recalls the journey of the deportees to the Nazi camps. Guided by the voice of the actor Pierre Arditi, through sound, images, lights and music, the visitor is led to discover the spaces that explore one of the darkest chapters in our history, before finally being confronted with the current world and the urgency of resisting every day.
A brand new permanent exhibition, produced by the Centre d’Action Laïque de la Province de Liège, is presented at La Cité Miroir in February 2016. En Lutte (The struggle). Histoires d'émancipation (stories of emancipation) reflects on the memory of workers ‘struggles and reminds us that the social solidarity that we enjoy today in Belgium is a precious heritage for which generations of workers have fought.
Designed in the form of a journey through time and guided by images, sound, light and the voice of the French actor Philippe Torreton, the exhibition shows that through the momentum of collective actions, the world can change and social progress can be made.
Septembre 2016 - février 2017
“You are not born a racist, you become one” Lilian Thuram
For almost five centuries, the human exhibition industry has fascinated over 1.4 billion visitors and shown somewhere between 30 and 35,000 exhibits worldwide. Through the exhibition Zoos humains. L’invention du sauvage (Human Zoos, the invention of the savage), viewers learn how racist prejudices took hold during the time of the major colonial empires.
The Groupe de recherche Achac and the Lilian Thuram - Éducation contre le racisme, have joined forces with the Centre d’Action Laïque de la Province de Liège and MNEMA non-profit associations to present at La Cité Miroir the tale of this forgotten history, at the crossroads of colonialism, science, racism and the entertainment world... the story of the “human zoos”.
La Cité Miroir reaches 250,000 visitors !
MAY 2017 - AUGUST 2017
Born in Lubumbashi in 1940, the oldest of 14 brothers, Mode Muntu joined his city’s Fine Arts Academy at the age of just 14. His intuitive sculptural vocabulary incorporates him within a movement of contemporary artists, such as A.R. Penck and Keith Haring, who utilise the outline as a universal expressive means. His instinctive painting made a marginal impact amid the turbulent history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
JANUARY 2018 - APRIL 2018
In May 2017, the famous Italian photographer Oliviero Toscani, known for his shock publicity campaigns for the brand Benetton in the 90s, set up home at La Cité Miroir and photographed almost 500 Liège locals for his Razza Umana project. For this project, Oliviero Toscani immortalised 70 to 80,000 faces, captured during his global travels over nearly ten years.
In January 2018, La Cité Miroir opens the exhibition OLIVIERO TOSCANI : RAZZA UMANA, which brings together the portraits of the 500 participants in the Liège photo shoot mixed with those taken by the photographer throughout the world.
MARCH 2019 - JULY 2019
The exhibition presents a prestigious selection from the collections of the Musée du quai Branly - Jacques Chirac in Paris. In the heart of La Cité Miroir, more than 80 works coming from Asia, America, Africa and Oceania are exhibited side by side in an unprecedented setting.
In October 2019 and to celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, the Centre d'Action Laïque organises four days of debates, shows, concerts and an exhibition at La Cité Miroir.
This is the opportunity to confront one’s history with its current realities and struggles, in order to make room for the emergence of a fairer, more progressive society with more fellow feeling while taking European and global realities into account.
OCTOBER 2019 - FEBRUARY 2020
An exhibition devoted to a personality at once famous and little-known, Charles Darwin, the originator of the theory of evolution.
Held by the Centre d’Action Laïque of the province of Liège in partnership with the Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle and originally presented at the Cité des sciences de Paris, the exhibition offers a journey into the singular and fecund thinking of this iconic figure, author of the seminal work On the Origin of Species.
MARCH 2020 - AUGUST 2020
For the first time in Belgium, an extensively documented exhibition dissects the “Gulag”, the ruthlessly organised concentration and internment system set up in the Soviet Union under Stalin.
An exhibition by the non-profit association MNEMA, Centre Pluridisciplinaire de la Transmission de la Mémoire, with the support of the Centre d’Action Laïque of the Province of Liege and Territories de la Mémoire asbl.
This exhibition is inspired by the exhibition held by Le Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de l’Isère - Maison des Droits de l'Homme - Département de l'Isère. With the support of the association International Memorial (Moscow, Russia).
OCTOBER 2020 - FEBRUARY 2021
20,000 visitors explore the exhibition Alberto Giacometti - l'Humanité absolue, one of the first extensive monographic exhibitions of the artist in Belgium. In a setting in harmony with the unique architecture of La Cité Miroir, the installation comprises 35 bronze masterpieces from the collection of la Fondation Giacometti and outstanding lithographs from the legendary work by Giacometti, Paris sans fin.
An exhibition co-organised by la Fondation Giacometti (Paris) and the non-profit association MNEMA.