Quick — which cities do you think of when urban arts are mentioned? For me, the first ones to come to mind are Paris, London, New York, Berlin, Athens, and Barcelona. These places are known to show highly innovative and engaging graffiti and murals from both new and internationally known artists.
Now, I can add Le Locle, a small town in the Swiss Jura region close to the French border, to my list. Granted, Le Locle is not just any small town but the home of renowned luxury watch-brands such as Tissot and Montblanc. The contrast between the elitist heritage of the town and the provocative street art makes it all the more interesting.
The open-air street art museum is accessible to anyone. It is the brainchild of Sylvie and François Balmer who developed the “Open Sky Museum — ExoMuseum” concept. In the past two years, the two founders of the “Luxor Factory” have worked with internally renowned artists such as MonkeyBird, Nasty, James Colomina, Lunar, NesPoon, Ardif, and M.Chat, to name a few, on exciting new art on the previously empty walls of buildings and structures in town.
The project is ongoing but has slowed down somewhat due to Covid-19. Still, there is more exciting art to come in the next months until 2024, when Le Locle will have up to 50 works of street art.
While traditional museums have been closed for a good part of the year, the permanent “open-air” art exhibition in Le Locle is a perfect way to get your cultural fix if you visit or — like me — live in Switzerland as see Le Locle’s street art as a #hometowntourist.
If you are feeling adventurous, you can walk through town and discover the graffiti and murals by yourself in unexpected places, say on a wall in a small alleyway. But if you want to make sure you don’t miss a painting by your favorite street artist, you can follow a map provided on the Luxor Factory website.
Le Locle is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, together with the neighboring La Chaux-de-Fonds, and the walk through the Exomuseum takes 1–2 hours.