After Two Years, the Monnaie de Paris Is Shutting Down Its Contemporary Art Program Because It Wasn’t Making Enough Monnaie

Its current Kiki Smith retrospective will be the space’s final contemporary outing.

Kiki Smith poses next to her artwork at the 'Monnaie de Paris' on October 17, 2019 in Paris, France. Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images.

While it may seem as if every organization is rushing to get in on the contemporary art boom, at least one institution is now opting out.

In a surprising move, the Paris Mint has decided to end its contemporary arts program. The institution, which has been making coins since the year 864, has become in recent years an unlikely venue for a number of popular exhibitions by contemporary artists including Grayson Perry and Kiki Smith. But now, officials at the Monnaie de Paris—an institution that, one imagines, knows its way around a budget—say they are changing direction due to low profitability and despite steady visitor numbers. Following the shift, the program’s arts director has quit and a forthcoming Jean Tinguely exhibition has been canceled.

The Monnaie de Paris’s new director, Marc Schwartz, who was appointed in November last year, made the decision to alter its cultural programming, according to the French publication Le Quotidien de l’Art. The institution will now pivot to “open up to a wider audience and other forms of creation (fashion, crafts, digital arts),” Schwartz said in a statement about his new strategic plan. The building was also recently used as a venue for Paris Fashion Week. Its artistic director, Camille Morineau, has stepped down and will not be replaced in the immediate term.

Schwartz says the Monnaie will now focus on “large public events” and “creative workshops.” It will also open a virtual reality space, host residencies, and offer a new award, the Prix de la Monnaie de Paris. Its current exhibition, the first-ever French retrospective of acclaimed American artist Kiki Smith, will be the institution’s final contemporary art outing. The sprawling exhibition, which includes 94 works as well as three original mini-medallions created for the show, is due to close on February 9. The planned next show of Jean Tinguely, slated for 2020, has been canceled. Artnet News reached out to the museum for comment but did not hear back by press time.

The Paris Mint, which is funded by the Bercy, Paris’s Finance Ministry, has been making coins for banks as well as medals and collector’s items from the building since 1775. It has been open to the public and running a contemporary arts program alongside its traditional function since 2017. 

The building is a stone’s throw from the Louvre and the Centre Pompidou and had built a reputation for hosting lively contemporary art shows in an unexpected venue. Its previous art director, Chiara Parisi, oversaw exhibitions ranging from Paul McCarthy’s “Chocolate Factory” to a solo show of work by art prankster Maurizio Cattelan.

Morineau, the artistic director who took on the role in 2016, championed women artists and contemporary sculpture. The exhibition “Women House,” which focused on women and the domestic space, welcomed 50,000 visitors in three months.

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