The BnF

Maison Jean Vilar

Avignon festival, 1995 © Daniel Cande

The maison Jean Vilar is jointly managed by the Bibliothèque nationale de France and the Association Jean Vilar, in partnership with Avignon city and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. It houses Jean Vilar's personal archives. It also gathers, preserves and enhances documents connected vwith all the seasons of Avignon festivals.

In the Maison Jean Vilar, the library is managed by the Performing Arts Department and proposes over 33 000 books and magazines about performing arts as well as archives and documentation about festivals and performing arts in Avignon. Entrance is free for all visitors, whether they be researchers, students, professional or amateur users. The library develops partnerships with teaching and training institutions.

All the year long and particularly during the Avignon festival, the Maison Jean Vilar organizes exhibitions, public readings, lectures and colloquiums.

Collections of the Maison Jean Vilar

Antigone, choreograph of Carolyn Carlson, photography C. Martinez

Antigone, choreograph of Carolyn Carlson, photography C. Martinez

The Maison Jean Vilar's library houses:

  • 33 000 books gathering classic and contemporary texts
  • a variety of works about performing arts: theatre, ballet, opera, cinema, circus, clowns, puppets, mime, street theatre... as well as general works about culture and cultural decentralisation
  • 300 titles of newspapers and magazines, among which 60 current periodicals in the field of performing arts and local cultural life
  • 300 edited videos and multimedia

Some archives collections complement the printed collections.

  • The Memory of the Avignon festival from the origins to 1947: administrative archives of successive directions until 2013, programmes of the festival, programmes of shows, press kits of companies, reviews, posters, photographs, sound and audiovisual documents.
  • The Memory of the Festival Off from the origins to 1966: programmes of theatres, flyers and press kits of companies, press clippings, posters
  • The Memory of the Hivernales, Avignon dance festival since 1979: administrative archives, programmes and press kits of companies, reviews, audiovisual documents

The Jean Vilar and Jean Rouvet collections that belong to the Association Jean Vilar are deposited at the BnF: manuscripts and archives belonging to Jean Vilar who set up the Avignon Festival, and to Jean Rouvet, Director of the TNP, posters, programmes, photographs, reviews about the Avignon Festival and the TNP.

Various information documents about the regional theatrical life, but also about authors and performing arts professionals are available to readers.

History of the Maison Jean Vilar

Maison Jean-Vilar in Avignon

Maison Jean-Vilar in Avignon

The Association for the Jean Vilar Foundation was created after Jean Vilar's death at the end of 1971. Its aim was to gather documents about the life and work of Jean Vilar during the Avignon Festival, from 1947 to 1971, but also at the Théâtre national populaire, from 1951 to 1963; a way to preserve memories but also to make the artist's work a source of reflexion and revival.

From this moment on, a dialogue was set up between the Association Jean Vilar, the Bibliothèque nationale and Avignon city. The idea to open a 'Maison Jean Vilar' takes shape when the city acquires the Hôtel de Crochans; a tripartite agreement is signed in December 1977. This agreement defines the missions of the Maison Jean Vilar, namely to gather, preserve and make available documentary resources about Jean Vilar's work but also about theatre decentralisation and, more generally, about theatre.

Since its opening in July 1979, with the support of Avignon city which provides premises and the assistance of municipal staff members, the Association Jean Vilar and the Bibliothèque nationale de France have been managing jointly the various services (library, video library) and activities (exhibitions, symposiums, workshops...) of the Maison Jean Vilar.

A new agreement, signed in 2012, now associates the Ministry of Culture and Communication to the three partners. It also updates the missions of the Maison Jean Vilar, particularly those concerning the memory of the Avignon Festival and the Festival Off.

For more info

History of the BnF

Friday, February 27, 2015


Lenka Bokova
Librarian in charge of the BnF unit, Performing arts department
Phone: 04 90 86 59 64
Direct line: 04 90 27 22 80
Fax: 04 90 86 00 07

For a bibliographic research, use our "Ask a librarian" service, SINDBAD.