Museum of Decorative Arts to re-open in Paris—six years late

September launch will complete “Grand Louvre” project



France’s vast Museum of Decorative Arts re-opens in September in the north wing of the Louvre complex in Paris after an eight-year closure.

Béatrice Salmon, the museum’s director, says that work on the site took twice as long as expected since disagreement among curators in the early stages led to the original plans being dropped and different architects hired. The work on the museum—initially scheduled to reopen in 2000—then finally began in 2004.

Four teams of architects handled different parts of the project, which included knocking out a 1980s metal ceiling from an upper level to open up the central nave to natural light from existing skylights. The nave area will be used for temporary shows.

The collection, totalling some 150,000 objects received as private gifts over the museum’s century-long history, is owned by a private association but housed in a state-owned building. The €34m ($43m) renovation has increased the available floor space to more than 9,000 sq. m.

Private donations accounted for around €14m of the costs, covering the restoration of some 5,000 objects going on display, while the French state provided €21m for a makeover of the building. Donors included the company PPR, owned by French billionaire and owner of Christie’s François Pinault, French oil group Total and Princess Firyal of Jordan.

Details of the museum’s budget were not available since the figure depends on partial government funding to be allotted yearly. Ms Salmon said the state would cover the cost of salaries while the museum would be responsible for funding all other operations through donations.

She says the museum was matched only by London’s V&A as a major institution of its kind in Europe. “For France, it’s very important, because since the 18th century France has considered itself the homeland of decorative art.”

“We are the only French museum in a position to tell the story of decorative arts from the Middle Ages to present times with reference to all the techniques imaginable,” says Ms Salmon, describing the museum’s displays as a “visual encyclopedia” of functional art objects.

Visitors will be able to tour nine floors of accessories, furniture and décor ranging from a Gothic bedroom to 1960s hanging bubble seats. The museum will also house several recreated period rooms and host temporary shows on the latest furniture designs.

“It’s the last stage in the works on what we call the ‘Grand Louvre’”, says museum spokeswoman Marie-Laure Moreau, referring to the overall complex encompassing the pyramid-crowned Louvre Museum and Tuileries gardens, where another renovated space, the Orangerie, reopened in May.

The inauguration of the Museum of Decorative Arts is scheduled to coincide with the Antique Dealers’ Biennial at the Carrousel du Louvre (15-24 September) in Paris.