Text: Tiffany Tang
Situated in the Louvre’s nineteenth-century Rohan and Marsan wings is the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, a museum of decorative art and design that houses over 150,000 objects, showcasing collections of antiquities and modern designs from the Middle Ages to the present day. The collections encompass a vast diversity of decorative objects including furniture, tableware, carpets, stained glass, wallpaper and porcelain. This diversity is a testament to the quintessence of the French art of living from the ancient times, as well as sophistication in craftsmanship and creativity.
The Musée des Arts Decoratifs is managed by Les Arts Décoratifs, formerly known as the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs (UCAD), a private organization started in 1882 at the time of the Universal Exhibitions when a group of collectors gathered together with the common goal in promoting applied arts and developing the bond between industry and culture, design and production. Today, Les Arts Décoratifs continued with the aims originally set down and endeavors to safeguard collections, promoting culture, art education and professional training. Besides the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, the organization also manages the Musée Nissim Camondo at Hôtel Camondo (63, Rue de Monceau) and the Ecole Camondo, a school of design and interior architecture (266 Boulevard Raspail).
The Musée des Arts Decoratifs benefits from the Louvre’s architectural structure, and upon entrance, visitors are greeted by rows of white pillars with mosaic-tiled design floorings with natural light streaming through the skylights on the ceiling. To view the exhibition in chronological order, visitors would begin on the third level with the collections of the Medieval and the Renaissance, the period that marked the birth of decorative arts for both the sacred and everyday life. This section leads to the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries collections, revealing the artistic boom dutring the reign of Henry IV and Louis XVI with the growth of the classical ideal. The section that follows is the nineteenth century collection, a period which marked a revitalization of artistic ideals after the devastation brought about by the Revolution. The unprecedented industrial designs and products created during the period also prefigured the Expositions Universelles in the years to come. The exhibition then proceeds to the Art Nouveau and Art Déco period from 1900 to 1937, an epoch known for the revival of an artistic style that endeavored to appropriate new materials, while combining aesthetics, luxury and functionality.From the third level of the Pavillon, visitors access levels 5 to 9, showcasing the evolution of design from the 1940s to the twenty-first century, with particular focus on the design of chairs and furniture pieces. Besides the main exhibition halls, the Musée des Arts Decoratifs also feature the Musée de la Mode et du Textile and several themed galleries, such as la galerie Jean Dubuffet and la galerie des bijoux.
Musée des Arts Décoratifs
107 Rue de Rivoli, 1st
Ph: 01 44 55 57 50
Hours: Tues – Sun, 11am – 6pm, late openings on Thursdays until 9 pm.
Metro: Tuileries / Palais Royal - Musée du Louvre (1 & 7)