UNESCO learning city of Clermont-Ferrand: ‘One thousand shapes’ family learning project


© Ville de Clermont-Ferrand
13 January 2021

As an active member of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, Clermont-Ferrand in France has made lifelong learning a priority for urban development. The city aims at guaranteeing all of its citizens access to the knowledge needed to empower themselves and participate democratically in the construction of a resilient city. To enable close coordination of all actors, an orientation, monitoring and evaluation committee connects residents, professionals, teachers and academics. Various innovative programmes are implemented as part of the learning city initiative, including the ‘One thousand shapes’ family learning project (Mille formes initiative) which recently celebrated its first anniversary.

One thousand shapes was jointly developed by the UNESCO learning city of Clermont-Ferrand and the National Museum of Modern Art Centre Pompidou in Paris, France. Designed with the support of international artists and designers, One thousand shapes provides free learning spaces throughout the city. In these learning spaces, children, babies and their parents are invited to engage in multidisciplinary and interactive artistic programming, supervised by childcare professionals and artists. 19,000 explorers and their parents benefitted from the programme during its first year.

Philippe Bohelay, focal point of the learning city of Clermont-Ferrand, gives an insight into what has been learned from the first twelve months of the project: ‘The activities we offer allow children to use their hands, to learn by gesture, to look, to experience, to feel, to smell, to touch… The accompanying adult is considered as a key player in the prospective dimension of this place by experimenting with the creative devices.’

Bohelay adds: ‘Innovation and research are keywords guiding the development of One thousand shapes, experimenting with new forms of social mediation in an eco-citizenship initiative. We are organizing training sessions, national and international seminars.’

On 15 December 2020, the project celebrated its first anniversary and, despite the numerous closures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, has been successful in attracting thousands of visitors. As Bernard Blistène, Director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne-Centre Pompidou, said: ‘It is a place giving us strong faith in the future and a sense of positive achievement for our children’. Clermont-Ferrand is ready to share this experience with other cities of our UNESCO network.


About the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC), coordinated by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, is an international policy-oriented network geared towards knowledge production and sharing, peer learning and capacity-building. UNESCO GNLC members benefit from sharing lifelong learning policies and practices with other cities in the network, developing and exchanging knowledge on key challenges and solutions, taking part in training initiatives, and participation in regional and global events.

Further information:

UNESCO learning city of Clermont-Ferrand

UNESCO Global Network of learning Cities (GNLC)