January 17, 2014

Postcard from Paris: Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris -- galleries restructured and permanent collection displayed away from open windows

Museum view of Eiffel Tower & Siene
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin,
ARCAblog Editor-in-Chief

PARIS - Musée d'Art Moderne de la ville de Paris has undergone a restructuring of its galleries since a thief stole five paintings -- never recovered -- in May 2010. The biggest visible change to visitors today is that the long downstairs gallery facing windows overlooking the Seine and the Eiffel Tower is now a big open space with large, immobile paintings too big to be carried away by one person.
Open gallery with large paintings

Four years ago, portable works by modern paintings hung in the lower level that had access to an outdoor terrace and down steps to the street that runs south along the Seine. Admission to the museum, then and now is free, so it would not have cost a prospecting thief any money to scope out the small works that were be easily removed in the early morning hours while security personnel waited weeks for a part required to fix the security
Shiny lock, sharp shutters
Entrance to the permanent collection

Today the museum appeared to have installed large outworks in the area that had been violated, tore down the wall dividers, and opened up the space. The inside metal shutters vulnerable in the break-in appeared well-maintained and locks nickel sharp.

The permanent collection is now displayed away from the large floor to ceiling windows into small rooms carved out of the middle of the building. More paintings, including some by the artists Picasso and Matisse who's works were stolen, appeared to be on display than even two years ago. This afternoon, with the bookstore full of customers and visitors eating and drinking at the cafe, this museum appeared to have no visible scars of the theft. However, I still can't bear to believe that those paintings, including the one by Braque that I so admired, were really thrown in the trash