Picasso 'at home' in renovated Parisian museum

Tue Mar 4, 2014 10:57am EST
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By Alexandria Sage

PARIS (Reuters) - "Every act of creation is first an act of destruction," said Pablo Picasso, a fitting aphorism for the five-year renovation of the Picasso Museum in Paris now reaching its finale.

Since 2009, art lovers in the city that Spanish-born Picasso adopted as his own have been turned away from the doors of the Hotel Sale on the Right Bank, the sight of cranes and scaffolding replacing that of Minotaurs and guitars.

But the world's largest Picasso collection will reopen its doors in June, showcasing the works of the prolific artist who died in 1973 in exposition space that has tripled in size to 3,800 square meters (41,000 sq ft) over five floors.

"We wanted to devote all the space to the collection - and we succeeded in that," museum director Anne Baldassari told journalists during a visit to the worksite on Tuesday.

Architect Jean-Francois Bodin had the task of rethinking a museum that could accommodate up to one million visitors per year while respecting the historic monument, one of the most elegant of 17th-century mansions in the chic Marais district.

With a total budget of 52 million euros ($71 million), which includes the purchase of new office space, the revamp maximizes the existing space by moving offices and workshops off-site and using previously unused space on the top floor.

Newly added are an education space, an auditorium and a terrace cafe offering a splendid view of the building's facade.

The new museum has a more open and luminous feel than its previous version, yet much of the crucial work done by Bodin to bring the building to modern safety and access codes is unseen.   Continued...

A general view shows journalists attending a press visit during the renovation of the Hotel Sale known as the Picasso Museum in the Marais district of Paris, March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau