Reminted Monnaie de Paris reveals its treasures

France's historic coin factory has had a €75m makeover

The Treasure of Hué will be on show for the first time in 130 years Courtesy of Monnaie de Paris

Billed as France’s oldest institution, the Monnaie de Paris is reopening its doors tomorrow (30 September) as 11 Conti-Monnaie de Paris, a museum of 170,000 monetary objects. The six-year renovation of the historic mint (it was set up in 864 by Charles the Bald), which stands on the Quai de Conti opposite the Louvre, cost €75m. Entry will be free of charge during the opening weekend.

The museum's collection ranges from rare coins of France’s kings and a double-portrait medal of Louis XVI and Marie-Antoinette to machines and tools for coin production. The modern factory, which makes coins for France and 40 other countries, is now based in Bordeaux, but one functioning machine for making €2 coins remains at the Monnaie.

This also marks the first time in 130 years that the Treasure of Hué—a collection of gold bars, ingots and medals that was looted from Vietnam’s royal citadel in 1886—is going on public display.

“The museum’s vocation today is to offer a broader, more aesthetic experience to visitors,” says the Monnaie's president and chief executive, Aurélien Rousseau. He plans to initiate a dialogue between the monetary museum and its 1,000 sq. m space for contemporary art exhibitions, which opened in 2014. The Indian artist Subodh Gupta, who will have a show next spring, “wants to make a confrontation between his stainless steel sculptures and our heritage of precious materials”, Rousseau says.

Appeared in The Art Newspaper, 294 October 2017