The production plant of Saint-Louis, a 50-meter long building surmounted by the world with the eagle, symbol of Fernet-Branca, was built at the beginning of the twentieth century, came into operation in 1909 and was shut down in July 2000.
The idea to transform the old Fernet-Branca distillery into a museum of contemporary art originated in 2003 from a joint project of the local government and the Branca family, always sensitive to social and cultural issues and interested in finding a new intended use for the plant that has been for years the heart of Saint-Louis life and its territory. Count Niccolò Branca signed an agreement with the city of Saint-Louis in 2003 according to which the plant would have been available for 23 years to create a museum.
This initiative falls within the cultural cross-border context connected with the close city of Basel where there are the Beyeler Foundation, the Tinguely Museum, the Schaulager, the annual exhibition "Art'Basel" and in Weil am Rhein (Germany), where there is now the "Vitra Design Museum".
The project was realized by architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte who considered the transfer to the future exhibition area in two stages: according to the first one, the area had to be used for exhibitions and visitors, while according to the second one the internal courtyard had to be covered with a glass window and an underground restaurant had to be built in the old wine-cellar where there are the original casks. The museum was inaugurated on June 15, 2004.