Paris's Picasso museum reopens after 5-year renovation

Sat Oct 25, 2014 7:41am EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - The Picasso Museum in Paris reopened on Saturday after a five-year closure for a costly renovation with President Francois Hollande urging crisis-hit France to draw inspiration from the Spanish painter.

The museum, situated in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais district, houses one of the world's largest collections of Pablo Picasso's work.

The long-awaited reopening took place on Oct. 25, the birthday of the artist who was born in Malaga, Spain, in 1881 but spent most of his adult life in France until his death in 1973.

The renovation of the museum, home to a collection of more than 5,000 paintings, sculptures and prints as well as Picasso's personal archives, was marked by repeated delays, infighting and controversy.

Anne Baldassari, the museum's president for nine years, was fired from her post in May following public squabbling with her staff and France's ex-culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, herself dismissed from the government in August.

Inaugurating the museum on Saturday morning, Hollande said Picasso's modernity and energy should inspire France.

"You don't build anything on nostalgia. Pablo Picasso was a painter of the future, of hope, of conquests, he freed himself from the rules of the past. He was avant-garde. France is an avant-garde country," he said.

The renovation, which cost about 52 million euros ($66 million), has tripled the size of the exhibition space over five floors, making it more accessible to what is expected to be up to one million visitors per year.

The event rounds up a rich week in the Paris arts scene.   Continued...

A worker puts the final touch during the renovation of the Hotel Sale known as the Picasso Museum in the Marais district of Paris, March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau