IMEC - Ardenne Abbey/

A living repository of the written word, publishing and creative expression

IMEC - Ardenne Abbey

Philippe Delval Philippe Delval

The Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC, Institute for Contemporary Publishing Archives) has been a heritage site for culture (CCR) since 1998. Located in Saint-Germain-la-Blanche-Herbe in Normandy, it is a renowned archival conservation organisation and a major research centre.


In 1121 a small Christian community was established at Ardenne on an ancient Gallic site. The new community was quickly assimilated by the Prémontré canons of the neighbouring abbey of La Lucerne, and in 1160 the little monastery became an independent abbey. In a state of constant modification up to the 18th century, the abbey suffered significant damage during the 19th century and at the time of the Normandy landings in 1944. Basic restoration work was carried out after the war. The Basse-Normandie region of France took over ownership of the site in 1994, and undertook a complete renovation and re-use project in order to establish the Institut Mémoires de l’édition contemporaine (IMEC) in 1996. All the activities of the Institute have been housed at the site since 2004. In 2016, with support from the State and the Normandy region, the former farm buildings were transformed into an exhibition space.



One of the most renowned archive conservation organisations in Europe, IMEC preserves an exceptional collection of over 600 collections which bear witness to the history of thought and to contemporary creation. Since its founding in 1988, IMEC has contributed to the development of research on literary, editorial, artistic and intellectual life, on its creators and mediators, its networks and institutions, and its economy and productions. The mission of the Institute is the preservation of the collections it holds, and through its cultural and pedagogical activities it aims to open up these resources to as wide an audience as possible. The centre is home to a vast heritage collection, a research library and a dynamic literary scene, as well as hosting research and creative residencies throughout the year.



Preserve and transmit: Marguerite Duras, Jacques Derrida, Eric Rohmer, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Edgar Morin and Patrice Chéreau, among others, have chosen to entrust their collections to IMEC during their lifetimes. At the heart of IMEC’s collections are the historical archives of French publishing houses.

Collect, organise, protect: The archives entrusted to IMEC are preserved in their material and intellectual entirety and are subject to a specific archival treatment. By bringing together and cross-referencing its varied collections, IMEC is able to reconstruct the networks of cultural life and open up new perspectives to research.

A dedicated centre for research: Researchers from around the world come to IMEC to consult its archives, taking advantage of its information and advice service as well as its dedicated research tools, and can stay at the Abbey of Ardenne. The Institute has established a policy of professional and scientific collaboration in partnership with some of the foremost national and international research centres, and also organises symposiums, workshops and seminars which encourage dialogue and showcase its collections.



IMEC’s busy literary scene enables the public to meet with writers and researchers, and to examine creative works and contemporary thinking. Artistic and cultural education projects help to engage young audiences. Writing workshops, presentations on the monument’s history, exhibitions, visits and meetings with those working in the field of books and literature enable visitors to discover the richness of the collection and the importance of our written heritage. The centre makes use of new approaches to cultural mediation to assist young audiences in their exploration of the creative process. IMEC also loans and exhibits pieces which aid in the promotion of its collections and activities both nationally and internationally.  The works published by IMEC demonstrate the scope and depth of its collections.