Have you ever been known in your group for some sort of never-ending saga? This happened to me when I was moving into my first apartment in New Jersey and had months of issues with acquiring a couch. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that we paid for the couch in full, and then every time we called to check on the status of the delivery, it was further from being made (going from being in transit to the distribution warehouse to unraveling before our eyes when our fabric of choice suddenly was out of stock). I became the girl at work with no couch, which provided lots to talk about at the copy machine as the story just kept getting more ridiculous.
Once again in Paris I can take part once again in a long, drawn-out tale, but thankfully this one is a bit less personal and inconvenient. For the past two and a half years, I've been following closely the progress (and drama) of the Picasso Museum’s renovation and long-awaited re-opening.
It’s not because I am a die-hard Picasso fan, though I do enjoy a lot of his work. It’s not because I was unable to visit the museum on two prior vacations to Paris due to its closure, the first trip dating back to 2010. It’s more because I live pretty close to the museum now and it feels wrong that its doors have been shut for so long. I've grown tired of telling my visitors that if they get lost looking for my apartment they can follow signs to the Musée Picasso, although it is closed. “When will it open? For how long has it been under renovation?” they ask. And the story starts all over again.
I suppose it wouldn't have been so bad, if like the couch situation, I just knew from the start about the realistic time frame. But since I arrived in Paris in March 2012, I've been hearing that the museum is only a few months, sometimes weeks, away from re-opening. There have even been various dates set for its opening that have come and gone without success. So I hope I’m not jinxing anything by saying that it truly is about to open its doors to the public on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 12:00pm!
No matter what happens, I do know that the museum is all ready for its debut. I’ve been thankful to have gotten a look around twice, pre-opening. Here’s a little behind-the-scenes peek:
The first time I got more than a glimpse of the inner courtyard was on the weekend of Les Journées du Patrimoine, back in September. The public was allowed to wander inside the building, although most of the artwork was not hung up yet.
The museum consists of mostly clean, white walls in a new-feeling space. But when you enter into the main staircase area, you are immediately reminded that you are inside the grand Hôtel Salé, dating back from the 17th century. Part of the restoration work involved restoring the sculptural decoration around the staircase. (You can read more about all the work that was done over the five years on their website.) I didn't see the museum before it closed so I can’t compare a before-and-after, but it looks great to me at present!
My second visit was an almost-unfortunate-turned-awesome viewing of the museum, all ready to go for its opening. I bought a membership to the museum, and was sent an invitation for “la visite en avant-première” for Saturday at 10am. An email which I read on Sunday at noon. Oops. I thought I missed the opportunity to see the museum before its official opening. But when Michael and I walked past the museum on a walk later that afternoon, another invitation-only event was in progress. And although my invitation was specifically for the previous day, they kindly allowed us entrance.
I don’t want to reveal too much, because you should go and take a look for yourself if you have the opportunity. But here’s something to pique your interest.
Part of the renovation efforts included transferring office space inside the museum to nearby locations. This move freed up more space to enlarge the gallery space for the permanent collection and visitor services, which now encompasses the entire building. And all the paintings have also been restored and reframed. It took a while, but it is all shiny and new.
The very top floor had some paintings from Picasso’s collection of other artists like Matisse. This floor also offered some beautiful views - don’t miss peeking out the window to see the Eiffel Tower and Sacré-Cœur out in the distance.
In the end, it might have even worked out better that I missed my appointed pre-viewing timeslot. Because as we all filed out of the museum, these event-goers was treated to a tented cocktail hour in the back garden. A champagne toast to celebrate Musée Picasso? Yes please!
All I know is if Saturday goes as planned, I can stop antagonizing my mother by claiming we can move back to the United States only when the Picasso Museum finally opens.
Are you planning on going to Paris’ Picasso Museum?
PLAN YOUR TRIP:
Musée Picasso Paris
5 rue de Thorigny, 75003 Paris, France
Open from Tuesday to Sunday, Tues-Fri 11:30am-6:00pm, Sat & Sun 9:30am-6:00pm, Open on the third Friday of the month until 9:00pm.
Closed on Mondays as well as December 25th, January 1st and May 1st
Admission: €11 regular admission (prices as Oct 2014); open for free the first Sunday of every month
Special opening event: The museum will be open to the public, for free with no prior reservations needed, on Saturday, October 25, 2014 from 12pm – 6pm, and on Sunday, October 26, 2014 from 9.30am – 6pm.