from October 10, 2015 to February 28, 2016
MRU photographic archives at Le Havre (1945–1957)
As one of the French cities that suffered the most damage during the Second World War, Le Havre received special attention from the photography department of the MRU (French Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism). With over 700 photographs taken from 1945 to 1957 by Henri Salesse and his staff photographer colleagues, the ministry set out in the field to record government action to convince elected officials and disaster-victim associations, but also the press and the general public, of the merits and effectiveness of its policy. This photographic documentation thus focused on the destruction and recovery of materials in 1945, the construction of temporary housing in 1946, followed by the first work sites on Place Gambetta in 1947. Until 1957 and beyond, the prestigious and bold city-centre reconstruction entrusted to Auguste Perret and his studio received regular coverage in trade journals. Promoted through exhibitions at the Salon des arts ménagers (Household Arts Show) in Paris, in France and internationally, the photographs of Le Havre were for the MRU a significant symbol of the modern rebuilding of France. All of the photographs on display are modern silver prints from original negatives (6 x 6 cm or 9 x 12 cm) taken from the photo library of the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy and the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Equality and Rural Affairs (MEDDE/MLETR), with the exception of three panoramas that are digital inkjet prints created from a digital montage of several original negatives.
Daniel Coutelier, head of the MEDDE/MLETR photo library
Didier Mouchel, photography historian
In cooperation with the French Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, and the Ministry of Housing, Territorial Equality and Rural Affairs.