Le Musée joli à Paris revealed
La Musée Maillol is located in the upmarket 7th district of Paris, off Rue de Bac, a street where you’ll find Bon Marché and the Conran Shop. It’s also a stones throw from the President’s residential home. In mid-September, this musée jolie re-opened it’s doors after having a much-needed makeover, to the delight of the residents in its locality and to lovers of the arts and culture in Paris.
Having often walked past this venue, without ever really knowing what it was or indeed why it was, MLP couldn’t wait to explore the museum once it was open. Having read a little about it, MLP discovered that the museum was built in the 18th century and used to be a convent. In the 50’s a model called Dina Vierny had an apartment there and over time gradually bought the rest of the building. She was a huge fan of Artisde Maillol’s creativity and essentially dedicated her life to turning the building into a shrine of his artwork – she succeeded in her endeavours and the Musée Maillol first officially opened in 1995. It closed in February 2015 to undergo renovation work and reopened in September 2016.
First of all, just have to say that the location is wonderful. If you decide to come to this museum you will not be disappointed as it resides on the cusp of the 6th and 7th arrondissement. Essentially that means that if you walk 15 minutes north of the Musée Maillol you arrive at the River pretty much near the Musee D’Orsay and the Louvre -and if you walk 10 minutes south-east, you end up in the culturally rich quarter of St. Germain des Pres – so it’s a winner on that front.
From outside, Musée Maillol displays news of its opening by exhibiting prints from the new temporary collection by Ben on the walls of its beautiful building. Positioning itself as a space to showcase contemporary artists, it was a coup for the Museum to relaunch with this exclusive event. It’s the first time Ben Vautier’s work has been exhibited.
Unfamiliar with this Italian artist – and flanked by the brood, including my Mama, my better half and our twin 8-year-old offspring – we set about on a journey of discovery.
The Musée is split over four floors. In the basement is a very beautifully designed and chic café.
The ground floor sports a shop and a gallery space. The first floor, accessed by a spiral staircase, houses a good size gallery space that’s smartly partitioned; and the top floor -the second floor- holds the museum’s permanent collection.
Once we shuffled past the reception,endured our security check and bundled our belongings into the free lockers we were good to go. My mum struggled with the spiral staircase, opted for the lift and met us on the first floor, which is currently exhibiting Ben’s work. If you want to know more about his background study his Wikipedia page or the insight provided on the Musee Maillot website, but in short on first impressions – it stirred a mixed bag of emotions. Art is so subjective!
Our introduction to Ben ranged from typography and rebellious messaging on one end of the spectrum, to the artists preserved pee in a glass on the other! Given that MLP is no art critic all I can tell you is that it was thought provoking but, I personally didn’t feel inspired.
Surrealism felt like the apt context here, especially once we discovered the second half of his work on the ground floor. But, before subjecting ourselves to that, we decided to check out the permanent art collection on the top floor, which was by contrast quite exquisite.
The collection of work here, includes both paintings and sculptures, created by Aristide Maillot. The life size bronze statuettes are breathtaking to see and the drawings, truly magnifique! The human body is displayed from a variety of angles and stripped bare! Unsurprisingly this did raise a few eyebrows and noisy giggles from the 8yr olds so we ushered them quickly to another floor so as not to disturb the ambience with yelps of ” look there’s a bum mum!”
The ground floor selection of Ben’s work provided an opportunity for the children to interact with some of his creations. This worked well for us as the boys can often be reluctant voyeurs. Acutely aware of this, the museum smartly gave kids the chance to play games, wrestle with a crocodile, mess round with a printing machine and push n press various buttons and knobs on one or two things. But, take note there was a “sexually explicit’ section hidden behind a curtain that was not suitable for children.
After an hour or so, we were ready to leave, but not before having a quick look at the café which was super chic and had ‘hidden gem’ written all over it! Once we’d seen that and had a chance to peruse the shop – which had some great worthwhile buys, we headed for the door.
So what did MLP think in summary?
The Musée Maillol is a wonderful museum. It’s neat, petite and a great find and the location is perfect.
What about the Expo?
Not super keen on ben although I did enjoy some of his photography that was on show.
It was quite expensive for the family? Plus the charge of a euro for the leaflet that tells you a bit about the expo was unusual compared to other museums in Paris. The cost was €12 per adult. €5 for a child -aged 7-25 – however, the second child (aged 7-17) goes free if attending with two full-paying paying adults and one other child. Kids under 7 are allowed to go for free – which is great! For our visit, the cost was €41.
Did the kids like it.
Well, when I asked them what their favourite thing about the expo was, they said…“the exit” – which I think was a bit harsh, as they seemed to really enjoy the interaction on the ground floor of the expo. But in truth overall, I’m not sure this particular exhibition was ideal for kids so they probably got bored quickly. Older kids, especially art lovers would really appreciate it. But they loved the venue!
Would MLP go again?
Yes absolutely, but I would go without the kids, probably with a girlfriend or my husband until the right expo came along that suited my young family.
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Musee Maillol, 59-61 Rue de Grenelle, 75007 Paris
Ben expo runs until January 2017
Open from 10:30am-6:30pm every day and until 9:30pm on a Friday. The café is open from 11:30am