Translation of French news article about the reopening of
the Orangerie Museum in Paris after 6 years of renovation.
Beaux Voyages Home
PARIS (AFP) - Starting on Wednesday the public will be able to see the
“Nymphéas” (translation- water lilies) of Claude Monet, displayed in natural
daylight, and this will be free until Sunday to celebrate the reopening of the
Orangerie museum in the garden of the Tuileries in Paris.
The museum, closed since 2000 for renovation, was inaugurated on 2 May by
the Minister of Culture and Communication, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres.
The reopening was postponed until 17 May in order to clean up the work areas.
After six years of work, the Orangerie museum offers a new venue for the
Nymphéas of Claude Monet and the impressionist and modern collection Walter-
Guillaume, in a space that has been totally transformed and with the exhibition
surface almost doubled.
The museum will receive groups in the morning and individuals in the
afternoons said the management of the Museums of France, in order to
preserve a high “quality of visit”.
The Orangerie was originally a gallery built in 1852, and it became the “Claude
Monet Museum” in 1927, several months after the death of the artist. It was
destined to hold the Nymphéas, the famous group of paintings that are two
meters high and 100 meters in length in a presentation- two elliptically shaped
rooms with natural ceiling lighting- conceived by Monet himself.
Painted from 1914 to 1926 at Giverny, the Nymphéas were given to the state of
France by Monet the day after the armistice of 11 November 1918, although the
work was not yet finished.
The renovation work, which cost 28.89 million euros, was done to enlarge the
gallery area, which went from 32,000 sq. ft. to 63,000 sq. ft., of which 5,750 sq.
ft. is for the Nymphéas. But most of all it was to once again bring the light of
day upon the famous ensemble of Monet which was blocked from natural light
since the 1960’s when a floor was installed.
The museum had a major transformation in 1966 when it received the Walter-
Guillaume collection, and this was placed on a floor constructed above the
Nymphéas, thus taking away the daylight.
A rich collection of 144 works of Renoir, Cézanne, Derain, Picasso, Modigliani,
Rousseau and Soutine, it was donated to the state of France by the widow of
the collector Paul Guillaume, who remarried the industrialist Jean Walter, and it
will now reside in a 10,000 sq. ft. area in a new lower level.
“We wanted to restore the original atmosphere”, explained the architect Olivier
Brochet, of the Bordeaux agency Brochet, Lajus and Pueyo, but also give the
building “a new transparency”.
The entrance hall, like the vestibule which lies in front of the two galleries
housing the Nymphéas, is bathed in light thanks to two glass partitions which
permit one to see the garden on one side and the Seine on the other.
One sees the Nymphéas in natural light once again thanks to a gigantic hole in
the ceiling of the two rooms. A canopy, overhung by the original glass of the
room which was itself restored, “calms the ambiance”, says Mr. Brochet. In the
gallery rooms the only colors come from the paintings.
“Working with light was the fundamental concept behind the impressionist
movement”, added Philippe Saunier, the curator of the museum. “It was
nonsensical that these works of Monet were deprived of that”.
The canvases of the Nymphéas, which are glued to the walls, never left the
museum during the renovation period, and they were “conserved in water tight
and ventilated enclosures”, indicated the architect.
Twenty meters of the vestiges of a 16th century wall were discovered in 2003,
which added an extra year to the work, and this was made part of the below
ground area, next to a temporary exhibition gallery and an auditorium.
The museum hopes to welcome 500,000 visitors or more each year.