The Fondation Cartier Plans to Open a New, Enormous Contemporary Art Space in Paris

Slated to open by 2024, the Jean Nouvel-designed space will be one of the largest contemporary art spaces in the city.

The Cartier Foundation is expanding in Paris. French media reports that the prestigious foundation will take over 150,000 square feet of the empty Louvre des Antiquaires building after plans to create a shopping center there fell through.  

“The future is to reinvent! In particular, a new location situated in the heart of Paris,” the president of the Cartier Foundation, Alain-Dominique Perrin, reportedly let slip to the French Beaux-Arts magazine. The “crazy project” will be designed by Jean Nouvel, the architect behind the Louvre Abu Dhabi. 

Perrin said the facility would include 65,000 square feet of exhibition space and galleries dedicated to the permanent collection, making it equivalent in size to the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. The building will also include artist studios, a cinema, and performance space. 

Contacted by artnet News, a spokesperson for the Cartier Foundation declined to comment on the subject. But according to the French daily newspaper Le Parisien, the city is happy about the news. “This will add a museum on an axis that already includes the Louvre, the Arts Déco, the Orangerie and soon the Pinault Foundation,” the deputy mayor of Paris, Jean-Louis Missika, told the French paper on Wednesday. “Whatever the case may be, anything is better than another shopping center,” added Missika, who is in charge of the city’s urban planning.

The foundation’s current space, a Jean Nouvel-designed building on Boulevard Raspail in the 14th arrondissement, which it has occupied since 1994, is much smaller, at 13,000 square feet. According to reports, the foundation plans to convert the ground and first floor of the former mall, increasing its exhibition space fivefold. 

The entrance of a shop in the Louvre des antiquaires. Photo by François Guillot/AFP/Getty Images.

“The project will be of great magnitude, because the Cartier Foundation wants to create large modular floors to exhibit large works,” Missika explains to the French paper. French media currently offers conflicting reports about whether the new museum will serve as a second space or whether the foundation will shutter its old building and relocate to the new one. 

The Parisien newspaper reported last December that the Cartier Foundation was scouting potential locations for expansion. The empty shell of the disused Louvre des Antiquaires building was floated as a possible site at the time, but the owner of the building, the property developer Société Foncière Lyonnaise, soon announced plans to transform it into a 160,000-square-foot shopping mall. That project has since fallen through.

The Rue de Rivoli building is known as a former mall that housed antique dealers. In the 1990s, 240 dealers worked out of the site, but over the years, that number has dwindled. There remain a few die-hard dealers whose leases have yet to expire; they will reportedly be bought out by the foundation.

Architects of the Bâtiment de France are reportedly studying the foundation’s proposal for the site. Pending building permits, construction is scheduled to begin in 2019 with the aim of opening the space by 2023. The foundation will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024.

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