Located at the heart of Paris, in the Marais district, the Hôtel Salé is home to the Musée Picasso Paris, which features over 5000 of the Spanish master’s works.
A Prestigious Mansion
In 1985, the art and architectural historian, Bruno Foucart, described the Hôtel Salé as “the grandest, most extraordinary, if not the most extravagant, of the grand Parisian houses of the 17th century.”
The Hôtel Salé has been a designated historic monument since 1968. The regal 17th-century mansion is undoubtedly worth the detour as a museum, but also as a distinguished architectural setting. The building boasts a superb wisteria covered pergola in its courtyard. On the inside, the imposing, and breathtaking staircase, a mark of the lavish decoration by Martin Desjardins and the Marsy brothers, is sure to wow visitors.
There simply couldn’t be a better choice to represent Picasso who loved historical houses.
The Hôtel Salé: a chequered history
The Hôtel Salé (salty mansion) acquired its name from its first owner, Pierre Baudet, who made his fortune collecting gabelles (tax applied on salt at the time). However, Pierre Aubert only owned the mansion from 1659 to 1663, the year he was involved in the financial scandals that ruined his mentor, Fouquet.
Many occupants coveted the Hôtel Salé following Aubert’s fall, including the Embassy of Venice. The mansion later served as a national book repository housing the convent libraries during the Revolution. In the 19th century, the Hôtel Salé turned into a boarding school which Balzac attended, then became the École centrale des arts et manufactures, a prestigious engineering school. The École des métiers d’art of the City of Paris was the last to occupy the building from 1944 until the State took over ownership of the property in 1964, and declared it a Historical Monument.
The Hôtel Salé officially opened as Paris Picasso museum in 1985, and closed for renovations in 2009.
2009-2014: Revamped during 5 years
The Musée Picasso Paris reopens its doors five years after it closed for renovations. The purpose of the refurbishment was of course restoration, but most importantly expansion, providing more space for both the exhibition and the visitors. According to Laurent Lebon, the new President of the Museum appointed in June 2014, the revamp offers “a new perspective” on the entire the collection.
The do up by Stephane Thouin, Chief Architect of historic monuments, Roland Simounet, and the architectural firm Bodin & Associés amounts to 37 showrooms, a total of 3 000 square metres spread accross five floors.
A Collection Unique in the World
The 5000 art pieces — including 300 paintings and 300 sculptures — and tens of thousands archive pieces (sketches, drawing booklets…) are displayed in the entire mansion in series of 400. Paintings, drawings, and sculptures depict all facets of the artist’s creativity.
And there is more! In addition to the master’s own creations, his personal collection of paintings by famous names such as Matisse, Derain, or even Le Douanier Rousseau will also be part of the exhibition.
Musée Picasso Paris
5, rue de Thorigny