On the 12th of September 1940, on the hill overlooking Montignac village, a team of 4 teenagers (Marcel Ravidat, Jacques Marsal, Simon Coencas and Georges Agniel) made one of the most prestigious 20th century archaeological discoveries. This cave is classified Historical Monument in December 1940.
The complete replica of the Palaeolithic cave
For the first time, all of Lascaux is revealed. A complete new replica retraces the discovery of the famous decorated cave. But that’s not the end of the adventure: the entire site inquires into the position that Lascaux occupies in cave art and its relation to contemporary creation. The opening of the International Centre for Cave Art marks the beginning of a new adventure combining the emotion of ancestral art and an important technological achievement.
The complete replica of the original cave is the culmination of three years of work in the Perigord Facsimile Studio. This new space welcomes visitors, inviting them to contemplate the works and experience the authentic emotion felt at the discovery of the cave, to observe, to enquire into the reasons for its existence and to reflect on the environmental and cultural context in which it was decorated.
The architecture of the International Centre forms an integral part of the visitor’s experience: a half-buried building at the foot of the Lascaux hill, it is perfectly integrated into the landscape. A gigantic glass front invites the public to visit a universe firmly focused on technological prowess.
Starting with its shape: there are no straight walls, a tangle of rooms with atypical shapes leads the visitor to the heart of a building of 8,000 sq m. A fault running its whole length evokes a gash in the hill or a prehistoric stratum recalling the passage of time.The various spaces with their uncluttered style and modern aesthetics encourage the public all through the visit to enjoy an immersive and personalized experience.
Explore LASCAUX IV
Prepare for the Lascaux experience !
Professional guides will accompany the groups all along the visit of the site. During 1 h 00 you have the time to ask your questions and discover Lascaux
- Belvédère and Shelter
- The Cave
- The Lascaux Studio
- The Cave Art Theatre
- The film Theatre
- Art gallery and temporary exhibition
- Belvédère and Shelter
- The Cave
- The Lascaux Studio
- The Cave Art Theatre
- The film Theatre
- Art gallery and temporary exhibition
From the belvedere overlooking the Vézère Valley, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, visitors are free to take in the view with their tablets. When the landscape is scanned a virtual reality map appears, pinpointing in particular the location of all surrounding major archaeological sites open to the public.
Next, visitors are invited to enter a shelter where they place themselves in front of a screen. The image of the Lascaux hill appears through this canvas as if one was looking out a window. The live image takes the visitor on a virtual trip outside, changing the landscape according to the hour and the season.
Time travel can now begin. The giant screen gives us a view of the Vézère Valley almost 20,000 years ago when the landscape of Lascaux was totally different from today, and looked like a steppe dominated by animals. Another leap and we fast forward to 1940. The landscape changes. A group of four adolescents crosses the screen. They head off on an adventure in the woods of Lascaux and invite the public to follow them.
The replica represents the whole of the original cave accessible to the public, reproduced with the techniques and the art of the PERIGORD FACSIMILE STUDIO (PFS) and the ARTISTIC CONCRETE ATELIER (AAB).
Inside the replica, the atmosphere is like a real cave. It is cool and dark. Sounds are muffled. Visitors can appreciate the splendour of the works in an authentic atmosphere with very few interruptions. This space is dedicated to contemplation.
Groups of visitors accompanied by a guide ensure that each visitor’s experience will be as personalised as possible. During the time devoted to contemplation of the walls, the guide will accompany the group and provide information to enrich the visitor’s knowledge of the site.
Eight large walls of the cave are reproduced in this space where visitors are free to circulate. All the cave’s major workshop are represented: “Two Crossed Bison”, “The Great Black Cow”, “The Panel of the Imprint”, “The Apse”, “The Shaft Scene”, “The Axial Gallery”, “The Upside-Down Horse” and “The Hall of the Bulls”. With the help of virtual reality, visitors can find information on the various representations, techniques and interpretations.
In this immense hall, four different displays are on offer :
The model : discover the cave in a completely original way with virtual reality! Using the tour companion, visitors can scan the surface of this model to see the works located at various points inside the cave.
The art experience : with the same tools and techniques used by Palaeolithic humans, visitors can create their own works of art virtually. This space shows everything one needs to know for understanding the techniques, tools and choices of these artists.
A fragile balance : how did the cave survive the passage of time? Why was it closed to the public? How can we continue to preserve it on a daily basis? All these questions that you ask yourself are answered in a new immersive experience made possible by the latest technologies.
The Lascaux objects : here you can handle the objects found during archaeological dig sand learn more about them. A number of different objects are assembled on an animated table like an archaeologist’s. A video provides information on these finds and the dating techniques used for understanding Lascaux. Two touch-screens placed on the edge of the table present an interactive chronology showing Lascaux’s place in the history of humanity.
Visitors enter a modern theatre or rather a series of “small rooms” showing scripted plays organised in three acts.
Act I – 19th century: Renaissance. When the first door opens, the visitors enter a room that takes them back in time. They find themselves in the 19th century at the time of the Universal Exposition of 1878. There they discover the first decorated caves and engage with pre-historians who are asking themselves about these discoveries and their authenticity. Could prehistoric man really have painted such masterpieces ?
Act II – 20th century: Interpretation. Inside this room, a scripted play brings to life the ideas and methods of two famous pre-historians of the 20th century: André Leroi-Gourhan and Abbé Henri Breuil. You are entering the world of the great adventurers and archaeologists of the last century, revolving around the main archaeological discovery of the 20th century: the Lascaux cave.
Act III - 21st century: Research. This act is resolutely looking to the present and to the future. The public witnesses the incredible world of state-of-the-art technology, used by contemporary researchers and archaeologists. In the context of a research laboratory, the play presents the research techniques of today!
Visitors take seats facing two giant screens. A multi-screen 3D film proposes a unique visit of the Lascaux cave. The first screen shows images made from 3D surveys of the original cave. The second presents scenes of other decorated caves around the world. In this way, the audience can get a close look at the works.
This commented film entitled “Lascaux and the World” takes the audience to the heart of the Hall of the Bulls, the Axial Gallery, the Passage, the Nave, the Apse and the Shaft…and features the world’s different decorated caves, with their animal representations and signs…Get ready for a strikingly realistic experience.
This room explores the connections between various art works from cave art to contemporary art. The surrounding wall with 90 screens composed of images of works by well-known artists such as Miró, Tapies or Picasso make up this unusual exhibition. Jean Paul Jouary, philosopher and curator of the exhibition, has selected various works linked to the universe of Lascaux: depending on the techniques, the themes, the types of representation and his artistic inspiration, he explores the connection existing between cave art and contemporary art.
Six interactive displays face the public. Visitors are asked to compose their own exhibition by a choice of images. This selection of images from modern art combined with images from cave art can be assembled into a single exhibition, according to the visitors’ wishes, and seen by all.
THE LASCAUX MYTH
Relive the epic story of Lascaux in 6 dates
Discovery of Lascaux on the 12th of September 1940
Closure of Lascaux on the 20th of March 1963
On the 20th of March 1963, André Malraux, then Minister of Cultural Affairs, ordered the cave closure.
Lascaux was listed as a World Heritage Site and receives the UNESCO label
Lascaux is listed as a World Heritage Site and receives the Label UNESCO.
Lascaux II opening
In the early 1970s, in order to meet public demand, the project of facsimile is launched by the former owner of the site, M. de la Rochefoucauld. They realize the first paintings on experimental materials, with natural elements. The result is remarkable, but works stop because of severe financial difficulties.
Beginning of the tour "Lascaux, the International Exhibition"
With the mineral wall molding and recreating new technologies (patented technology called "stone veil"), the Dordogne General Council embodies the reproduction of the Nave (« the black cow », « the frieze of deers », « the imprint panel », « the backed bisons ») and the « the shaft scene », omitted parts of Lascaux 2.
Cave art international centre (CIAP)
The whole Lascaux cave will be the essential part of Montignac-Lascaux Parietal Art international Centre. This equipment will be focused on Lascaux cave, new image technologies and virtual mediation.
Lascaux : 1 name / 4 adventures
Lascaux 4 a.k.a. Lascaux International Center (opened in 2016).
1h guided visit in the replica of the entire cave + visit on your own with an audioguide to get extra information about Lascaux, the paintings, the engravings and its bound with modern art.
Exhibition travelling all over the world and giving visitors abroad the opportunity to discover parts of the paintings of Lascaux.
First replica of the original cave (opened in 1983 – 90% of the paintings of Lascaux). An authentic and detailed guided visit (1h15mn) the first part of which starts with a torch light.
The original cave (discovered in september 1940 and closed to the public in 1963).
The Discoverers of Lascaux...
In 1940, four young men stumble upon a prehistoric cave in Dordogne. . Seven decades later, one of these discoverers enters the life-size replica of what has become a heritage site.
Looking back on these four boys who have left a lasting mark on the history of Lascaux…
On the 8th of September 1940: several hundred metres from Montignac, in a clearing on the Lascaux hill, 18-year old Marcel Ravidat was walking with his dog Robot. When the dog disappeared down a hole in the ground, left by an uprooted tree some years earlier, the young mechanic’s apprentice began throwing stones into it. They rolled and rolled deep down into the earth. Marcel could feel it: he had just found something extraordinary. Could it be the local legend, an underground passage leading to Lascaux Manor? He returned four days later with a few friends to discover one of the greatest archaeological works of art of the 20th century.
That summer Jacques Marsal, a Montignac boy, was almost fifteen. A high school student on holiday,he was with the others on the 12th of September 1940, and went to alert his former teacher Leon Laval a few days later. He did not return to school, but instead camped on the site with his friend Marcel in order to protect the cave until 1942. That year he was picked up on the Montignac bridge by the French gendarmerie and requisitioned for the Service du Travail Obligatoire (Mandatory Work Service) in Germany. At Marcel Ravidat’s suggestion, he became an official Lascaux guide when the cave opened to the public in 1948, and worked there for some fifteen years.
Georges Agniel was born in 1924. His parents had moved to Paris to find work. Georges was spending the holidays with his maternal grandmother when he participated in the fabulous discovery of 12 September 1940. However he quickly had to leave his friends to return to school in Paris and is only present on very few photos taken that autumn of 1940. A technician at Citroën motor works and later at the Thomson-Houston company, he returned to Montignac on 11 November 1986 to join his three companions Marcel, Jacques and Simon. He later took part in the ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of the discovery in the presence of the French president François Mitterand and was decorated with the French Ordre national du Mérite (National Order of Merit) in 1991.
Leon Laval was the first adult to enter the Lascaux cave. on the 16th of September Jacques Marsal knocked on his former teacher’s door to tell him about the discovery. On the 18th of September Laval descended into the cave to confirm the boy’s extraordinary find ! A retired schoolteacher, son of two teachers, Leon was passionately interested in literature, theatre and music, but also archaeology. He became a correspondent of the CNRS (French national research centre) and a delegate of French Historical Monuments (Curator of the Cave) until 1948, when it opened to the public. Leon Laval entered into contact with Henri Breuil Abbé in order to authenticate the cave and its paintings.
Simon Coencas (1927-2020) and his family, were refugees in Montignac fleeing the persecution of Jewish people. When he participated in the fabulous find in 1940, he was 13 years old and the youngest of the group! He does not appear on the photos taken in the days following the discovery of the cave: he returned to Paris with his family a few days after the event. Life was not easy for Simon, who witnessed his parents’ arrest, and was later also arrested and deported to the Drancy detention camp. He was miraculously released one month after deportation and hid until the end of the war. As he likes to tell it, “he was a jack-of-all-trades” but has always been present for each anniversary of the discovery. In 2016 Simon did us the honour of his presence and visited the work in progress at the International Centre for Cave Art with the President of the Departmental Council of the Dordogne, Germinal Peiro. Like his childhood friends, Simon was decorated with the Ordre national du Mérite in 1991, and named Officier des Arts et des Lettres in 2011.