Last month, after nearly a decade, the Louvre Museum in Paris reopened its Département des Objets d’Art that houses its magnificent collections of French furniture and artifacts dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries.
The newly renovated salons and period rooms stretch over 2500 square meters on the first floor of the Sully wing. They are rife with spectacular pieces, furniture of royal provenance, decorative bronzes, snuff boxes, jewelry, scientific instruments and porcelains from the reigns of Louis XIV through Louis XVI.
A stroll through the new space begins with two salons formerly known as those of the Conseil d’Etat – or State Council - whose restoration was made possible by the exclusive financial support of Montres Breguet, a brand in the Swatch Group.
In the second of the two salons, under 19th century painted ceilings and the watchful eye of Louis XIV whose majestic portrait painted by Hyacinthe Rigaud now hangs, visitors can also admire spectacular pieces by the cabinetmaker André-Charles Boulle.
To mark the long awaited inauguration, Breguet hosted a gala dinner under the pyramid of the Louvre last June 17, where 300 guests were treated to a concert by the Hungarian soprano, Polina Pasztircsák, winner of the 65th Geneva International Music competition, also sponsored by Breguet since 2002.
“Those involved in this project know that my father was there at the outset of the relationship between the Louvre and Breguet, a brand whose history he loved,” said Nayla Hayek, daughter of the late Nicolas G. Hayek, founder of the Swatch Group, in her opening speech. “Tonight, I am sure my father is here with us as we celebrate this great partnership.”
In 2009, the Louvre had presented an exhibition titled “Breguet and the Louvre, an Apogee of European Watchmaking,” featuring historic Breguet timepieces including many from the Musée Breguet, the Louvre’s own collection, and some on loan from private collections and institutions like the British Royal Collections, the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris, the Kremlin Museum and the Swiss National Museum.
That same year, with the support of Mr. Hayek, Breguet extended its financial support for the renovation of the Objets d’Art department.
“My first thoughts go to Nicolas Hayek who maintained very close ties to the Louvre, marked by an insatiable curiosity and a refined passion for France’s patrimony and culture,” said Jean-Luc Martinez, president of the Louvre, in his speech.
The two-year restoration was completed at a reported cost of €26 million, supported entirely by private and foreign patronage, according to Marc Bascou, former director of the Louvre’s Objets d’Art department.
This inauguration marks the completion of a vast modernization project known as the “Grand Louvre” initiated in the 1980s by French president, François Mitterrand, launched to improve the design of exhibition spaces, facilitate public access and smooth the transition of the Louvre into the 21st century.
“Breguet has been a faithful and historical patron of the Louvre,” said Mr. Martinez in closing. “It has been one of our most generous contributors both in its financial input and its heartfelt implication.”