PARIS (AFP) – A top-level sacking, harsh words from the artist’s son, delays and a huge budget overrun – Paris’s Picasso museum reopens its doors on Saturday amid the fallout from a fraught US$71-million renovation.
Just over five years after it closed for what was intended to be a two-year refurbishment, the museum – housed in a 17th century baroque mansion in Paris’s historic Marais quarter – has been extensively modernised and is more than twice its previous size.
Costs, however, stand at 22 million euros ($27 million) over budget due to an increase in the scope of the works, a rift has opened up between Picasso’s son Claude and the French government and the museum’s director of nearly a decade, Anne Baldassari, no longer has her job.
The gallery, which first opened in 1985, boasts one of the world’s most extensive collections of Picasso’s work with around 5,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and documents.
Most of the exhibits were left to the French state on his death in 1973, the artist having spent most of his life in France.
Others were donated by his family including his widow Jacqueline.
According to new director Laurent Le Bon, the expansion – which has boosted the museum’s exhibition space to 3,800 square metres (41,000 square feet) – will allow it to display far more of its collection, only a fraction of which was previously displayed due to lack of space.
“Everything has changed and nothing has changed. You still have the basic structure of the building… but at the same time everything has been redone,” Le Bon told AFP.
“There is a lot of fluidity… one can move around much more easily than before, one has a freedom which goes well with the spirit and the works of Picasso,” he said.