Mar 19th, 2017, 11:58 AM

A Strategic Union

By Jewel Goode
Fondation Louis Vuitton
Cultural heritage and artistic collaborations between Bernard Arnault, Frank Gehry, and the city of Paris

Bernard Arnault, President and CEO of luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, will collaborate with Canadian-American architect, Frank Gehry, to create a new museum in the Jardin d’Acclimation.  Extensive renovations are expected to be completed by 2020, with costs estimated at 158 million Euros. 

The French cultural center will be dedicated to artisanal crafts and traditions. It will be located in the Bois de Boulogne (16th arrondissement) in the former Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires (MATP), an ethnographic museum which has been classified as an historical site. 

Designed by architect Jean Dubuisson (1914-2011) in collaboration with Michel Jausserand (1922-1991) and Olivier Vaudou (1926-2015), Georges-Henri Rivière’s (1897-1985) MATP officially closed its doors to the public in 2005, and its 250,000 art objects were transferred to the Musée des civilizations de l’Europe et de la Méditérrané (MuCEM) in Marseille.

Image Credit: Fondation Louis Vuitton & Photo of the former Musée des Arts et Traditions Image Credit: AFP

Over the next three years, the MATP will be subsequently renamed La Maison LVMH / Arts – Talents – Patrimoine.  The 13.600 square-meter building will include exhibition rooms, gallery spaces, an artisanal workshop welcoming resident artists, an event hall, and a rooftop restaurant. The collaborative efforts between Arnault and the city of Paris could be viewed as a strategic maneuver. Geographical expansion of the mogul’s empire would not be farfetched, especially after its aggressive and failed attempts to acquire Hermès in 2010.

Map of the Jardin d'Acclimation supplied by the Fondation Louis Vuitton

Since the MATP is classified as an historic site, it cannot be sold. The city of Paris has struggled to find a new tenant willing to undertake massive renovations of the defunct building.  Therefore, Arnault has agreed to a 50-year lease at 150,000 Euros per year in order to create a new museum. It will be housed in a building adhering to sustainable development codes.

Interior of the former Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires Image Credit: Pierre-Yves Brunaud/Picturetank, 2017
Interior of the former Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires Image Credit: Pierre-Yves Brunaud/Picturetank, 2017

The building is located just 300 meters from Arnault’s Fondation Louis Vuitton.  Inaugurated in 2014, it was also designed by Gehry. By transforming the MATP into a lucrative investment, Arnault could potentially increase visibility of the Fondation Louis Vuitton which has recently welcomed more than 1.200.000 visitors to its Sergei Chtchoukine collection. It would also strengthen awareness for the LVMH brand universe, further highlighting the importance of artisanal work and exceptional craftsmanship inherent to the brand’s DNA.

Image Credit:  Fondation Louis VuittonBernard​ Arnault and Frank Gehry.  Image Credit:  Richard Grasse of the Financial Times

Since its closing, the MATP has fallen into a state of disrepair due to conflicts with the city of Paris and the Ministry of Culture. Ultimately, the city hopes to decrease its debt burden and raise awareness for France's cultural heritage institutions with these recent artistic collaborations with Arnault and Gehry.  Anticipation remains extremely high for the completion of the La Maison LVMH / Arts – Talents – Patrimoine in 2020, especially given the recent success of the Fondation Louis Vuitton.