Paris Picasso Museum finally reopens

It has been half a decade since the Musée Picasso in Paris closed for major renovation. While it is welcome news that the institution is back in business, the journey getting here has been long, painful and arduous, with all the relevant parties – directly and indirectly – engulfed in one quarrel after the other.
The original timescale given for the $71 million (approximately £44 million) project was two years, which was considered to be appropriate to the task at hand. It was, with hindsight, perhaps wishful thinking. This was never going to be a simple endeavour.
Complication was explicit from the outset. Here was a museum with a tremendous legacy to watch over, here was a government pitching its two francs, and here were Picasso’s heirs with their own personal and historic association.
Navigating a discourse between all of these parties and others has been challenging to say the least, the legacy of which is the modernisation of the 17th century baroque mansion within which the museum is based. It is now twice its previous size.
That is the positive outcome, the negative being what the AFP described as a “rift” between Picasso’s son Claude and the French government, and the dismissal of the Musée Picasso’s director Anne Baldassari.
Her dismissal was quite the shock in the art world, despite it being public knowledge that there was a lot of tension within the institution. Ms Baldassari had, for example, been at the museum for over 20 years, nine of which she served as director.
She remains a key authority on Picasso and had been instrumental in not only keeping the museum relevant but also increasing its scope. Many bemoaned her sacking. However, others were less impressed with style of management, with some saying she had perhaps overreached herself. She had to go.
That is all past tense now (for some). While the wounds remain fresh, the (impatient) public finally visit the museum and benefit from a bigger, better and bolder experience. There is some comfort in knowing that this institution, which is home to over 5,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and documents by and belonging to Picasso, is quite the marvel.
“Everything has changed and nothing has changed. You still have the basic structure of the building… but at the same time everything has been redone,” the Musée Picasso’s new director Laurent Le Bon was quoted by the AFP as saying. “There is a lot of fluidity – one can move around much more easily than before, one has a freedom which goes well with the spirit and the works of Picasso.”
Cadogan Tate can ship works of art from anywhere in France to most destinations around the world.