Musée des Arts Décoratifs Unveils Renovation of Modern and Contemporary Gallery

The Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris will unveil its newly remodeled Modern and Contemporary Design Galleries after a renovation on October 19th, 2018. The début will coincide with the public opening of the highly anticipated exhibition Tutto Ponti, Gio Ponti archidesigner, chronicling the life and works of famed Italian architect and designer, Gio Ponti.


Tapio Wirkkala, Bottles, 1966
Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Acquired thanks to the generosity of Michel and Hélène David-Weill
© ADAGP, 2018/ MAD, Paris / Jean Tholance

For the Modern and Contemporary Design Galleries, which include an impressive panorama of works from the 1940s through the present day, the absence of space had become a serious shortcoming, requiring the Musée des Arts Décoratifs to maintain a good part of its collection in the museum’s reserves. The recent renovation has extended the exhibition area to a massive 2,100 square meters, including a newly constructed level, nearly doubling the former exhibition space and allowing for over 1,000 works of art and design to be displayed.

The renovated spaces invite the visitor to explore the prolific world of the decorative arts through works of graphic design, fashion, wallpaper, toys, glassware, furniture and photography, much of which was recently acquired thanks to the creation of Le Cercle Design 20/21 and private donations. Many of these acquisitions have never been exhibited before.

François-Xavier Lalanne, Second Rhinoceros writing desk 1966
Brass, fake rhinoceros horn, wood covered with sheet brass, leather tail with steel armature Musée des Arts Décoratifs. Acquired thanks to the patronage of Mr. and Mrs. Gregory Annenberg Weingarten
© ADAGP, 2018/ MAD, Paris / Jean Tholance

The renovation was supervised by Olivier Gabet, Museum Director in conjunction with the design and architectural firm Normal Studio. Both were supported by the museum’s scientific team represented by Dominique Forest, Head Curator of the Modern and Contemporary Department, Cloé Pitiot, Curator of the Art Nouveau - Art Deco and of the Modern and Contemporary Departments, Jean-Luc Olivié, Head Curator of the Glass Department, Marianne Brabant, Louise Curtis, Curatorial Assistants and Régine Soulier, Museography Manager.

Jean Prouvé, “Antony” chair, 1954
Musée des Arts Décoratifs Donated by the CROUS de l’Académie de Versailles, 2002
© MAD, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance. ADAGP, 2018

One of the project’s ambitions is to provide a more fluid viewing experience, as well as for more immediate access to the contemporary works. This new thematic approach allows for the overlapping of avant-garde movements with postmodernism, creating a new reading of the collections while giving the audience the tools to understand the history of design, a field of increasing interest to the public.

Zaha Hadid, Marburg Zaha Hadid Homage wallpaper, 2016
Fabrication et édition Marburg, Allemagne, 2016. Intissé, impression numérique. Inv. 2017.103.2
© MAD, Paris / photo : Jean Tholance

The display circuit begins on the landing of Level 3 where a succession of rooms allows the visitors explore works of contemporary design arranged by theme corresponding to six decades. The six rooms highlight pioneers in the field of modern furniture design beginning with the Steph Simon’s Gallery room, which includes designs by Charlotte Perriand, Isamu Noguchi, Jean Prouvé and Sori Yanagi.

Visitors will then pass through the Italian Design room with works by Ettore Sottsass and Enzo Mari, the Prisunic room with designs commissioned by the famed French department store, A New Japan with works by Ikko Tanaka, Shiro Kuramata and Comme des Garçons, the Philippe Starck room with works by the artist and finally, the Digital Erea room with works by Zaha Hadid, Joris Laarman and Iris Van Herpen.

Additionally, visitors can explore five levels of the newly renovated Marsan Pavilion, which intermingle and juxtapose designs from various decades and include works by François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne, Marc Newson, André Groult, Fernando and Humberto Campana, Jean Royère, Gaetano Pesce, Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec and Olivier Gagnère to name a few of the emblematic artists whose works belong to the Modern and Contemporary collection. These displays evoke themes important to the contemporary world and often present collections through the lens of dreams and fantasy.

muller van severen, Installation S, 2012
Leather, brass, polyethylene Musée des Arts Décoratifs Acquired thanks to the generosity of the members of the Cercle Design 20/21
© MAD, Paris / Jean Tholance

As part of the aesthetic and historical signature of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, period rooms also punctuate the display route. Visitors can explore a bedroom interior designed by Jean Prouvé for the Cité Universitaire in Antony or a Le Corbusier kitchen made according to a design by Charlotte Perriand for the Cité Radieuse in Marseille. It is also an opportunity to discover major donations such as those of Roger Tallon, a key figure in French industrial design. A final section traces the evolution of the chair with a presentation of over sixty works, recalling the event Les Assises du Siège Contemporain that took place at the museum in May 1968.

The visit is also marked by influential movements likes Memphis, which introduced notions of liberty and humor into the world of design after having freed themselves from the ideas formulated by The Bauhaus. It immerses the visitor into the most rigorous and formal of designs, as well as an exploration of one of the materials that helped shape modernity: plastic. This new presentation is enhanced with models, films and archival documents offering a new interpretation of the Modern and Contemporary Gallery.