A new architectural setting
In association with Snøhetta and Agence NC (Nathalie Crinière), the Chatillon Architectes firm carried out restoration of the museum over a four-year period, updating the visitor experience and making the museum a key part of the cultural landscape.
Renovation focused mainly on the building’s façades, openings, passageways and some of the wood flooring, on redesigning the visit layout and on adapting the building to the 21st century by upgrading standards and creating vertical circulations and new areas. The work has enabled embellishing the monument and highlighting its architecture, while adding a new touch with grand stairways that open the museum into the modern era.
The new areas
Along the visit pathway, several areas have been created:
. Two introductory rooms present Paris, its symbols, key data on the city and the history of the museum’s creation and donors.
. On the underground level, new rooms exhibit collections that range from the Mesolithic Era (9000-6000 B.C.) to the mid-16th century.
For visitor enjoyment, a restaurant opening on the gardens has been added.
Capacity for school groups and adults in workshop areas has been multiplied fourfold as compared to previous possibilities.
In a second step, a center for historical, digital and documentary resources will be opened. It will encourage exploration and collaborative creation focusing on the history, archeology and memory of Paris.
This area will provide broader access to the 580,000 items from the collections of several departments, including graphic arts (drawings, prints, posters), photographs, historical and memorial objects, coins, cultural heritage archives and files on works from the museum collections.
During closing, unprecedented work was carried out to restore the buildings and their contents in a way that highlights this exceptional heritage. The entire set of 3,800 works displayed, the grand interior decorations and the façades have all been restored. Interventions ranging from merely removing dust to full-scale restoration were carried out by curatorial teams and museum management, in collaboration with the Paris Musées Collections Department and within the framework of the DRAC Ile-de-France Scientific Commission.
Focus on the audience
Circulation areas have been extended and more fully adapted to the building. Renovation places visitors at the heart of the project, from their arrival through access to the gardens by means of an enhanced visit layout.
Snøhetta renovated the reception area, which is designed for optimal use. The ticket counters and cloakrooms have been reworked to increase museum capacity and offer maximum comfort, while ensuring a smooth circulation that protects the site and is easier for visitors.
Easier access for everyone, in particular the disabled, was one of the renovation project’s main goals. To achieve this, an appropriate layout with elevators and ramps has been installed. An approach based on universal accessibility has been developed throughout the permanent collection display, with the creation of attractive and entertaining outreach installations designed for all audiences.
An outreach program that is appropriate for all types of visitors accompanies the works. Designed in collaboration with the museum’s scientific and cultural teams, the program also required the intervention of a number of experts on Paris, including historians, geographers, urban planners, archeologists, sociologists, economists and literature specialists. Professionals in France and other countries, as well as visitors, were also consulted.
Translated in English and Spanish along the entire pathway, the outreach installations provide context that includes primary references and additional ways to explore a given topic. Ten percent of the works displayed have been installed at a child’s height.
Digital installations (filmed interviews, archival excerpts, animated films and games, projections, listening areas, audio descriptions, interactive maps, digital applications and labels) are located throughout the display to provide additional information on the major historical episodes in Paris.