Occupying the imposing and historic States Offices building in the heart of St Peter Port and overlooking the harbour where Victor Hugo first arrived, the Victor Hugo Centre will welcome locals and visitors alike throughout the year.
The Centre will comprise three elements - a Performance & Event Space on the ground floor, the Museum & Interpretation Centre on the first floor, and on the second floor a Learning Hub.
The ground floor will provide the island with a new flexible Performance & Event Space in the centre of St Peter Port. It will be an intimate venue, housing 50 to 60 people, and be available for local creative community groups to use for such things as music recitals, poetry readings, film, photography and dance. It will also house temporary international exhibitions bringing exciting new experiences to Guernsey. The facility will be unique and complement and deepen the island’s current dynamic cultural life.
"The Guernsey Literary Festival fully supports the plans for the new Victor Hugo Centre which will celebrate the life and works of Victor Hugo. It will be fantastic to be able to host literary events in this unique and inspiring space."
Claire Allen, Festival Director, Guernsey Literary Festival
There will also be a welcoming multi-use area on the ground floor incorporating a café, exhibition area and gift shop. It will be a gathering place for the local community as well as visitors to the island.
"The Victor Hugo Centre will celebrate and continue a rich cultural heritage. The facilities planned will enable locals and visitors to experience music making in action"
Tim Wright, Head, Guernsey Music Service
There will be a gallery dedicated to Victor Hugo's family and friends, and his muse and mistress, Juliette Drouet. Featured will be an exquisite miniature version of Hauteville House where he hosted many famous friends as well as islanders from all backgrounds. This will intrigue visitors and encourage them to visit Hugo’s Guernsey residence in Hauteville.
Other galleries will feature landmark literary works which were written on the island, including Les Misérables and Toilers of the Sea. A further gallery will focus on his active social advocacy and progressive stance towards human rights, freedom of expression, universal education, justice and penal reform.
The imposing building in which the centre will be housed will be remodelled to accommodate its exciting new purpose. Externally, the entrance forecourt will be redesigned and made accessible to wheelchair users and the west elevation will include a spectacular new cladding feature which will help to revitalise the North Plantation
The Learning Hub will be an exemplary resource for local and visiting schools and students to not only learn about Hugo's talents, but to reinterpret his work for today, and explore and develop their own creativity.
The Centre will promote Hugo’s passion for human rights and freedom of expression, and will seek to establish links with similar institutions around the world.
"If you really want to understand Victor Hugo, you have to spend time in Guernsey.”
Jean Baptiste Hugo, great-great grandson of Victor Hugo