Monday, August 24, 2009

Musée Picasso in Paris now closed until 2012

Musée Picasso

Yesterday was the last day that the Musée Picasso in Paris will be open until the end of 2012. The museum plans to:
  • spend €20 million on extensive renovations and expansion of the museum building which will upgarde the electrical/digital capacity, improve access for people with mobility problems, expand exhibition space and improve facilities for educational activities.
  • move the collection to a super secure location. Nobody is saying where as the value of the 5,000 works in the collection is literally inestimable.
  • stop loans of items to other museums for the duration of the closure
  • start the works in January 2010 and complete them by February 2012 - meaning the museum will be closed for the next two and half years. (However it could be much later if the renovations to the Musee de l'Orangerie are anything to go by - that museum was closed from 2000 until 2006!)
  • Continue educational and cultural activities in other locations.
Besides the works listed by the museum, I'm guessing that two further aspects of the museum's activities will receive increased attention:
  • Security: I think it's very likely that further thought will be given to how the works are housed from a security perspective following the theft from the museum, in June this year, of a Picasso sketchbook worth more than €8m (£6.9m). It had apparently been kept in an unlocked cabinet without an alarm system!

Picasso is the most stolen artist in the world because of his prolific output, recognisable signature and valuable works. There are more than 500 missing Picassos on the London-based Art Loss Register of stolen art.

The Picasso museum houses the world's largest collection of his work, ranging from paintings and ceramics to sketchbooks, handed to the French state by relatives in lieu of taxes after his death. The museum has about 1,500 Picasso drawings, many in sketchbooks.

Guardian - £6.9m Picasso sketchbook stolen in Paris

  • Digitisation: I'd be very surprised if they didn't take the opportunity to create a complete digital record of the collection while it's off site. It's the logical thing to do which will enable much better access to the complete collection.
Picasso died in 1973 and the Musee Picasso was opened by the national museum authority in 1986. It's housed in the Hôtel Salé in Rue de Thorigny, in the Marais district of Paris. It's a very imposing old building (it was built between 1656 and 1659).

Location of the Musee Picasso
map from the museum website

I'm a big fan of the Museum.

I started out as not being particularly interested in Picasso but paid a visit to the Musee Picasso while on a stopover in Paris and became an instant convert!

What I particularly liked was the way you could follow his development as an artist in chronological terms - with works of art paralling information about what was going on in his life when the artwork was created. For me, it just made sense of the man for the very first time. That visit led to a much better appreciation of both the man and his genius, the work he has produced - and how hard he worked over the course of his lifetime. This was an artist who reinvented his work again and again and again and grew and developed right to the very end.

If you'd like to see a little more of it before 2012, here's all the photos on Flickr which are tagged Musee Picasso

Future Picasso exhibitions and other places you can see works by Picasso

So - what does that leave us with until the museum reopens?
this exhibition will reveal a fascinating new insight into the artist's life as a tireless political activist and campaigner for peace, challenging the widely held view of the artist as creative genius, playboy and compulsive extrovert.
  • Picasso in Provence - this site provides details of where you can see museums and places relating to Picasso's life and work


  1. That museum totally changed my opinion of Picasso! Before I visited I suppose my opinion had been like that of many people who'd only seen a couple of his real paintings in museums. The breadth of that collection is amazing, and gave a real perspective to what he did, when, and what else was going on at the time. While I'm still not a great fan of the man, I have a great appreciation for his work now.

    I highly recommend everyone visit in 2012. :)

  2. I'm glad we got to see it in May. I hope they will expand on the beautiful garden area and add some refreshments there. Loved the way Musee Rodin has their wonderful garden area. The area at the Picasso is not as large but could be very nice with a bit of work. It is a beautiful collection of work, indeed.

  3. Tina - to my mind it's a prime example of how a museum should be - giving you new insight into and understanding and appreciation of an artist.

  4. Donna - I must confess I thought exactly the same thing last time I visited! There's nothing quite like a pleasant place to sit down once you've been round a museum like that!


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