Works in sight at the Palais de Tokyo and at the Beaux-Arts in Paris

One of the halls of the Palais de Tokyo under construction, in Paris, in 2019.

At the end of 2025, the Center Pompidou will have to lower the curtain for a construction site of at least five years. At the same time, another high place of Parisian contemporary art, also public, will close its doors, but for a shorter period of time: the Palais de Tokyo must undergo a renovation costing 20 million euros at the very least. .

In this building dating from the Universal Exhibition of 1937, everything needs to be reviewed, from the original zinc roofing on the 8,000 square meter roof to the glass roof and the bay windows. The hygrometry there is unstable, the sealing, failing. A report by the Court of Auditors, published in March, thus reported leaks in the room which was to house in 2018 a work by the Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, whose insurance value was estimated at 2.3 million. euros. The art center then had to deploy tarpaulins and take out a special insurance policy. Since then, the management has constantly alerted the Ministry of Culture – no less than seven letters counted by the Court of Auditors.

In February 2020, the situation became more complicated: marble slabs were detached from a wall inside the building, in spaces accessible to the public. The Palais de Tokyo once again warns Rue de Valois of the risk of further falls. Despite the urgency reported in 2018, the operator of cultural heritage and real estate projects only conducts audits in 2021 and 2022.

“Short closing”

The detailed program of work to be carried out must be submitted during the summer, for a “short closure which should not exceed one year”, assures Marianne Berger, Deputy Director General of the Palais de Tokyo. While waiting for the thermal insulation work also planned, the summer exhibitions will only take place on the lower levels of the art center, to avoid the greenhouse effect under the glass roof.

In the maze of listed buildings of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, scaffolding has long been part of the landscape. One day, it’s a courtyard that needs to be renovated, another, a fresco to be restored. “As soon as you pull a thread, it’s infinite”, recognizes Alexia Fabre, director of the establishment. The recent demolition of the prefabricated building called “Lenoir”, the location of which will be converted in the fall into a garden shared with the Paris-Malaquais school of architecture, has shaken the ground.

More serious, the movement of the floors in the courtyards affects the Palace of Studies, the splendid building whose red and ocher walls are inspired by the Italian Renaissance. Identified a long time ago, this chronic problem took on a more urgent turn in the spring. In March, part of the collections department, located on the first floor, had to be quickly evacuated, the floors of which had to be shored up. The floors of the two engraving and screen printing workshops also had to be reinforced. A complete diagnosis should be made in September to determine the extent of the work.

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