Although the residents remain under lockdown, the visitors kept away, and the museums and cafés closed, Paris has not stood still. Renovations, transformations, and preparations for new openings continued depsite the pandemic. They simply await permission to reopen to the public once again. At first scheduled for January 20th, a rise in Covid-19 cases has once again pushed back the date to a more vague promise of “by the end of February”. And it’s still anyone’s guess when the borders will open to non-European visitors. In the meantime, here’s a taste of what awaits us when the city’s cultural institutions can finally open to the public again!
New Museum & Monument Openings
The most hyped opening of the season is the Collection Pinault-Paris, a new contemporary art museum set in the former Bourse de Commerce at Les Halles opening later this month. The completely restored circular building that most recently housed the Paris Chamer of Commerce is now features “thematic hangings of works in the (François) Pinault Collection, monographic exhibitions devoted to major artists, commissions, cartes blanches, and in situ installations.”
Another opening gaining a lot of press is the 18th-century Hôtel de la Marine on the Place de la Concorde (not to be confused with the La Musée National de la Marine at the Place de Trocadéro), will open to the public for the first time this year after the departure of the French Naval Ministry in 2015. Its reception halls and apartments will be completely restored with period furnishings, and there will be a Jean-François Piège restaurant and an Alain Ducasse tearoom. And, oddly, a Qatari prince somehow got a 20-year lease on a large section of the palace to display his personal collection of over 6000 jewels and works of art dating from antiquity to modern times. I guess we’ll have to just see this one…
A bit more off-the-radar is the Maison Poincaré, a new museum dedicated to the world of mathematics scheduled to open this fall in the laboratory of the 1926 Nobel Prize winner in Physics, Jean Perrin, on the grounds of the Sorbonne’s Institut Henri Poincaré (5th arrondissement). “Visitors will be able to explore the history of this discipline across continents, understand the methods of nowadays’ researchers, and understand the influence of mathematics on our society and everyday lives.” The historic setting (and probable lack of huge crowds) may be enough of a reason to check out this specialized museum when it opens.
The Musée de l’Art Ludique, showcasing “influential figurative artists along with contemporary artists in comics, mangas, cinema, animation and videogames from across the world” will open this year in the Gare St-Lazare (9th arrondissement) after an initial run for a few years in the Docks en Seine – Cité de la Mode complex at Quai d’Austerlitz (13th). Their latest “off-site” exhibit celebrated the 25th anniversary of DreamWorks Animation.
Museum & Monument Re-Openings
The Maison de Victor Hugo at the Place des Vosges (Marais) was supposed to open in November after a major renovation including the creation of a garden courtyard. It will be open in 2021 as soon as the Covid-19 restrictions are lifted, with two temporary expositions: Auguste Biard, the Traveling Painter and The Drawings of Victor Hugo.
Nearby, the Carnavalet – History of Paris Museum on the Rue des Francs-Bourgeois will finally be reopening in spring 2021 after undergoing several years of renovations to rearrange and present the collections in a more meaningful way. The first temporary exhibition — Henri Cartier Bresson, Revoir Paris — is sure to draw crowds.
Another on of my favorite Marais museums, the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, is also supposed to reopen after two years of renovations this spring, with a new tearoom. I’m not a fan of hunting, but the “Nature” part of the museum is usually worth a visit, as well as the beautiful setting in the 17th-century Hôtel de Guénégaud.
The Musée de la Cinémathèque (Cinema Museum) at Bercy Park in the 12th arrondissement will reopen this summer after renovations and a new name – the Musée Méliès – after the pioneering French cinematographer George Méliès. “The museum will allow you to go back to the origins of cinema and embark on a magical journey where magic, wonder and science fiction mingle. From the first faked films to the most recent special effects, it is a journey through the history of cinema.”
The Musée des égouts de Paris (Sewers Museum) at Pont Alma (7th) is scheduled to reopen this year after renovations, but no firm date has been mentioned yet. This is actually one of the few museums that I haven’t actually visited in Paris. Perhaps now is finally a good moment to see if it really smells (quelle surprise) like a public toilet.
The Albert-Kahn Museum in Boulogne (eastern suburb of Paris) will reopen this year after renovations including a new 2,300m² building, a museum of prints, a 120-seat auditorium, and opening of a Japanese tearoom and restaurant. The gardens have already reopened for visits.
And since you most likely missed it unless you were in Paris between lockdowns in 2020…
The Archeological Crypt of the Ile de la Cité, which closed after the Notre Dame fire in April 2019, reopened in September with a new exhibition in homage to the cathedral: Notre-Dame de Paris – From Victor Hugo to Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.
The Musée Cernushi – the Paris Museum of Asian Arts near the Parc Monceau in the 8th arrondissement – reopened in March after its permanent collections were completely reconfigured.
The Palais Galliera – formerly known as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris (Paris Museum of Fashion), 16th arrondissement – reopened in October 2020 after doubling its exhibition space, with a retrospective show Gabrielle Chanel, Manifest de Mode, which you can see online.
Current & Upcoming Closures
The Grand Palais and Palais de la Découverte will be closing this year for massive renovations through 2024 (in time to host Olympic fencing and taekwondo competitions). During the renovations, a temporary Grand Palais “éphémère” – scheduled to open in February on the Champ de Mars next to the Ecole Militaire – will host the prestigious exhibitions and events with a capacity for 9000 visitors.
Closure of the Observatoire Panoramique de la Tour Montparnasse through 2024 as the entire office tower – the tallest in Paris – undergoes massive renovations in time for the Paris Olympics. According to the architectural firm that won the bid, it will be taller, greener, brighter and house shops on the ground floor.
La Musée National de la Marine (Naval History Museum) in Paris at Palais de Chaillot has closed for massive renovations through 2022.
La Musée Cluny in the Latin Quarter is completely closed until spring 2022 for the final stages of renovations for the Roman baths and Medieval residence.
The Roland-Garros Museum, previously known as the Tenniseum, is closed indefinitely while the stadium is still undergoing renovations.
You can usually find the latest updates directly from the Paris Office of Tourism website.
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