Foundation Louis Vuitton
Depending on what angle you view the new museum which opened in October 2014, it can appear to be a massive ship setting sail.
Designed by Canadian born architect, Frank Gehry and costing over 130 million euros, is nothing short of spectacular.
Whether your visit is to watch a performance, view the contemporary art, take in the surrounding views or simply gasp in awe at the monumental piece of architecture, you shouldn’t be disappointed.
Located on the edge of the second largest park in Paris; the Bois de Boulogne and the Jardin d’Acclimation; on the western edge of the 16th arrondissement of Paris, Fondation Louis Vuitton is easy to get to; whether it be a metro ride and a short 600m walk or by taking the very convenient electric shuttle bus from near the Arc de Triomphe.
Giant sails billowing in the wind is what it appears to be as it slowly comes into view and slightly reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House.
Standing 40 metres high and covered in 3,600 specially designed, curved laminated glass panels the City of Paris, changed building regulations to ensure it’s completion.
After 13 years in the making, the architect saw his building come into fruition.
LVMH commissioned the 85 year old, Frank Gehry who has the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Dancing House in Prague, and the recently opened Dr Chau Chak Wing Building, a new wing at the Sydney University of Technology, just to name a mere few, under his belt.
Foundation Louis Vuitton (Fondation Louis Vuitton) is a private museum for contemporary art owned by the LVMH group also known as LVMH Moët Hennessy.
In 1987 Louis Vuitton the fashion brand and Moët & Chandon and Hennessy, (who had merged 10 years earlier) merged, becoming a massive multi-national group owning over 60 high end luxury brands and employing over 83,000 people.
Some of the brands that they own or manage major shares of include; Veuve Clicquot, Donna Karan, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Givenchy, Guerlain, Dior, Bulgari, TAG Heuer, Sephora, DFS Galleria, for next time you are buying duty free, the high end department store Bon Marchè, the former La Samaritaine department store, which they are in the process of developing into an exclusive shopping centre, hotel and apartments and wait for it all you Australian’s out there; the iconic riding boot company; R.M. Williams.
Without further ado, let’s take a look around…
Water cascades down stairs on the ground level, spilling into a pool of water.
The graduated higher levels can be reached by glass lifts or stairs offering panoramic views.
The business district of La Defense can be seen looming over Paris, as can the Eiffel Tower.
And that, is just the outside.
Although the line up to get in snaked around the side of the enormous building, the wait wasn’t long.
Entering the spacious, sun drenched foyer through glass revolving doors, I missed the giant flower you see here until I was on the higher levels of the galleries.
Flat screen monitors above the reception desk, offer cloak rooms, free wi-fi and apps to download for an enjoyable experience.
A museum shop to the left and a restaurant straight ahead at first seems overwhelming until you get your bearings.
I highly recommend taking one of the maps available to help you navigate your way around, they are available for free in a multitude of languages.
To the right is lifts and an auditorium and to the left; the art galleries.
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At the time I visited Foundation Louis Vuitton I was lucky enough to not only visit a retrospective at The Pompidou Centre on Frank Gehry’s work but also to view a temporary exhibition of the models he created as part of his design process for the museum.
Frank Gehry is famous for his architectural process of building a large collection of models for his clients, allowing them to view all aspects of the structure.
Viewing the Foundation Louis Vuitton’s models at the Pompidou Centre was an enticing entrée before my visit to the real thing and observing more at the Foundation helped put the entirety of the building into perspective.
Here you can see Frank Gehry’s vision of the restaurant. A magnificent glass enclosure, allowing views to the outside, with fish sculptures floating from the ceiling, again, suggesting a water theme.
And here, the final result.
A stylishly elegant, contemporary museum restaurant.
The galleries offer a few permanent pieces but the museum’s focus is temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Danish-Icelandic artist; Olafur Eliasson’s ‘Contact’ was part of the opening celebration’s temporary exhibition and may give you a taste of what is to come.
The fabulous exhibition certainly added to the wow factor of the museum.
Contact can be a smile, a greeting, touch or simply reaching out to someone, artist Olafur Eliasson says.
As we were lead through a series of rooms, with his use of light and shadows, it was like an other worldly experience.
Trés cool! Superb!
If this is any indication of what is in store at Foundation Louis Vuitton, I will certainly be back.
The bus you see pictured below is what to look out for if you want to take advantage of the shuttle service. It runs every 15 minutes for the cost of 1 euro each way.
The bus stop is situated on Avenue de Friedland; one of the 12 streets that fan out from the Arc de Triomphe, which is the street after the Champs Elysées heading north (see map below).
I spent most of the day here, because I wanted to observe what happened when the changing light bounced off the building before and after sunset. Here is what I saw.
Foundation Louis Vuitton will no doubt become another iconic structure in Paris and is well worth a visit.
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Explore More Paris Museums:
- Musée Jacquemart-AndréI love poking around former residences of the bourgeois and Musée Jacquemart-Andre is one of the finest you will see in Paris.
- Maison de Victor HugoNestled in a corner of Place des Vosges, is the former home of famous author of the Hunchback of Notre Dame; Victor Hugo.
- Musée Nissim de CamondoA splendidly elegant mansion and former home of the Camondo's with an evocative, unforgettably tragic family history.
- Musée des Arts ForainsTransport yourself back in time. Ride spectacular antique carousels, play ancient fair-ground games and admire colourful memorabilia.
- Musée de la Vie RomantiqueTucked away behind an unassuming green gate, you will discover this enchanting hôtel particulier. An absolute delight.
- Fondation Louis VuittonNothing short of spectacular, offering panoramic views and modern art, this new museum is sure to become another Paris icon.
- Petit PalaisNot as small as its name suggests. Elaborate ceiling murals, magnificent mosaics, grand staircases a pretty garden café and it is free.
- Muséum national d’histoire naturelleThis museum would have to be the most dramatic and stylishly arranged natural history museum in the world. Be dazzled in awe ....
- Musée Cognacq-JayThis stunning home of Samaritaine Department store founder, Ernest Cognacq-Jay and his wife Marie-Louise Jay, includes Fragonard, Rembrandt, Cézanne ...
- Musée de la Chasse et de la NatureThis wonderfully, quirky, informative, interactive museum, doesn't take itself too seriously. Exploring the history of hunting.
- Musée BourdelleFormer home and studio of the artist; Antoine Bourdelle, who was famous for his monumental public statues and friezes, is an exceptional free museum.
- Musée ZadkineThe small sun drenched former home of Ossip Zadkine allow light to bounce off African influenced work, giving the museum a quiet sense of calm and elegance.
- Musée RodinThe newly renovated mansion and former home of the artist, has an equally rich and inspiring history as Monsieur Auguste Rodin himself and then there are the gardens.
- Maison La Roche – Foundation Le CorbusierAt the end of a leafy private lane is an iconic tribute to the architect of modern architecture.
- Musée CarnavaletLocated in the heart of the Marais, this museum is dedicated to the history of Paris. Boasting 600,000 pieces, ranging from the 17th to 20th centuries.
- Palais de TokyoContemporary and cutting edge exhibitions of modern art, a very chic restaurant, late night openings until 12am and a great view of the Eiffel Tower.
- Musée d’OrsayThe former railway station, sitting on the left bank of the Seine, has the largest collection of impressionist and post impressionist art in the world.