It was announced on 18th May, coincidentally World Museum Day, that the renovated Bourse de Commerce would be opening its doors to visitors this Saturday, 22nd May 2021, as Paris gears up to reopen its cultural venues after a six-month hiatus. The new art museum was commissioned by François Pinault, founder of the luxury group Kering—the parent company of fashion houses such as Gucci, Saint Laurent and Bottega Veneta—to house his extensive, personal art collection. Pinault spent the last 20 years working towards his goal of opening a private museum in Paris and has finally succeeded in making this dream a reality. Redesigned by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, and costing an astounding US$195 million to renovate, the transformed Bourse de Commerce maintains much of its original architecture, paying homage to its storied past while looking towards the future of modern art.
The decision to redesign the Bourse de Commerce and turn it into an art museum was driven, as mentioned, by Pinault’s dream of opening a private Parisian museum to showcase his collection of art pieces. “It began as a dream, a dream that seemed out of reach. Then this dream became an ambition,” he said in a press statement. “Today, that ambition has become reality. For years, I have longed to be able to show my collection in Paris, the city I love.” Pinault already has a museum, Palazzo Grassi, located in Venice and the collections within are all highly regarded by art aficionados.
Prior to its most recent renovation, the Bourse de Commerce had a storied past. It was originally built upon the site of a former royal palace to store the city’s corn and flour in 1767. One of the most striking features of the building is its circular shape, which is not often seen in France, inspired by Roman architecture. Another is the signature cupola which was originally made of timber but then rebuilt using cast iron in the early 1800s. Encircling the cupola is a series of paintings from the 19th century that depict trade on the five continents.
Within the historic building, Ando built an imposing 9-metre-tall central concrete cylinder under the breath-taking cupola. According to the Japanese architect, the concrete structure serves to “link the past and the present, to produce a vision of the future.”
The Bourse de Commerce’s inaugural exhibition is entitled “Ouverture” and has 10 exhibition spaces showcasing works done by internationally acclaimed artists including the likes of Kerry James Marshall, Cindy Sherman, and David Hammons, and it will explore themes that are pertinent to today’s society such as the Black Lives Matter movement, gender identity and feminist politics. Pinault described this debut as a “manifesto of the values he has always championed – the thirst for freedom, the rebuttal of injustice, and the acceptance of diversity.”
The ambitious project, three years in the making, was aimed at starting conversations “between the present of contemporary creation and the past,” according to deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Pinault Collection, Martin Bethenod. A marriage between tradition and modernity is present in all aspects of the redesigned Bourse de Commerce, even down to the café which honours the building’s heritage with a menu featuring ingredients such as grains, cereals, and seeds.
The Bourse de Commerce opens its doors on 22nd May but will only allow visits made through reservation due to Covid-19 restrictions. Additionally, its capacity will be capped at a maximum of 600 people, with directional traffic lines in place.
To find out more about the Pinault Collection at Bourse de Commerce, head over to their website.