The collections in Roubaix’s museum, composed of works from the 19th and 20th centuries, all have an exciting singularity: assembled more in an English or American manner than French, they banish any hierarchy between the Applied Arts and the Fine Arts.

The Industrial Museum of Roubaix, founded in 1835, is at the origin of the grouping revealed on the first level of the basin. This exceptional textile collection (several thousand sample books and fabric swatches ranging from Coptic Egypt to contemporary creations) is presented in rotation alongside the busts of important figures of the textile industry of the Nord. On the other side of the basin, beautiful fashion and jewellery collections, equally presented in rotation, share the stage with a gallery of socialite portraits. On the basin’s ground floor, around the blade of water bordered by the sculpture garden, former changing booths transformed into display areas welcome ceramics by Picasso, Dufy, Pignon, Sébastien, Carbonell and Chagall, placed with an eye to a significant grouping of still-lives and a glimpse of the collection of art and design objects. This applied arts collection is triumphantly overseen by the monumental gate by Sandier, at the end of the basin, a jewel among the collection of creations by the National Sèvres Factory housed in the museum. This group of statues now extends into the new sculpture gallery which addresses the subject of sculpture production at the end of the 19th and 20th centuries through cross-disciplinary themes (such as public orders, private interiors, worker monuments, or portraits) and several pivotal dates (notably the international and universal exhibitions of 1925, 1931, and 1937). Works by Rodin, Bourdelle, Sarrabezolles, Delamarre, Iché, Orloff, Waroquier, Meunier, Maillol, Despiau, Giacometti, Lipchitz, Laurens, Miklos, and Gargallo are presented. This space opens onto the identical recreation of the sculptor Henri Bouchard’s studio, which extends to a learning room which presents sculpting materials and techniques.

In the wing where the former bath rooms border the inner courtyard, the Fine Arts collections are organised in a chronological and thematic pathway which explains the tastes of Roubaix’s art collectors in the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries. Starting with a neo-classical ensemble organised around Ingres, the visit lingers in the 19th century with Meissonier, Carolus Duran, Monticelli, Weerts, Galland, Gérôme, Weeks, Cogghe, Fantin Latour, Rodin, Dalou, Cordier, Carpeaux, Bastien-Lepage, Claudel and Bartholomé, then the 20th century with Bernard, Vuillard, Bonnard, Denis, Lebasque, Puy, Vlaminck, Valtat, Mondrian, Marquet, Gromaire, Dufy, Vallotton, Van Dongen, Foujita, Lempicka, Wlérick, Pompon and Bugatti. The former entrance to the municipal swimming pool is now home to a section dedicated to the Roubaix Group with the works (drawings, prints, paintings, and sculptures) of its primary representatives, such as Delvarre, Leroy, Dodeigne, Delporte, Hémery, Leclercq, Roulland, Ronet, Van Hecke, Debock, Hennebelle, Droulers and Dodin, which are placed in perspective to several reference figures such as Manessier or Lanskoy.
The path opens or ends the visit in a vast room dedicated to the history of the city of Roubaix by way of its architectural and urban heritage (around the gigantic panorama of the Roubaix Grand Place designed by the Jambon-Bailly workshops for the Northern France Exhibition of 1911, and a miscellaneous collection of urban landscapes) on the one hand, and a portrait gallery of Roubaix men and women (businessmen and workers, leading members of the political or art worlds, etc.).