Former train station on banks of Seine to house Giacometti museum

World’s largest collection of Swiss artist’s work will be housed in former Gare des Invalides from 2026

The Swiss Surrealist sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti is to have a new museum in a former train station in Paris after fears the world’s largest collection of his work could be moved abroad.

The Giacometti Foundation will take up residence in the former Gare des Invalides, better known in postwar years as the former headquarters of Air France. Its opening is scheduled for 2026.

Three pieces from the Giacometti exhibition at Tate Modern in London in 2017
Three pieces from the Giacometti exhibition at Tate Modern in London in 2017. Photograph: Tim Ireland/EPA

Giacometti’s works are housed in the Giacometti Institute, an art deco mansion in Paris’s 14th arrondissement, near the Montparnasse studio where the artist, who died in 1966, lived and worked for 40 years. The institute has 95 paintings, 260 bronzes, 550 plaster casts and thousands of drawings and engravings, as well as an extensive archive of the artist’s documents and part of his library. But it does not have enough space at its current site to display them all.

Catherine Grenier, the institute’s director, said the new building would offer 6,000 square metres of the former train station near Les Invalides, opposite France’s foreign ministry at the Quai d’Orsay, to show the works and develop other projects.

“We will have half of it, a really big, beautiful space. We will have enough space to present the Giacometti collection as well as temporary exhibitions and our project for an art school,” Grenier told Le Monde.

The artist’s wife, Annette, who died in 1993, had wanted his collection to remain in Paris, Grenier said. “It would not have been difficult for the establishment to find a place to move, even outside France. We didn’t really think about it, but others thought a lot about it for us. But if we hadn’t found a place [for it] it is not certain we would have stayed indefinitely,” she added.

The Gare des Invalides station, on the banks of the Seine, was built for the 1900 Paris exhibition to ferry passengers to and from Versailles and Brittany. It was designed by the architect Juste Lisch – who worked on the 1852 renovation of the Élysée Palace – as a single-storey building resembling a greenhouse from the outside, but with additional space underground, including a courtyard and large extension under the esplanade.

Giacometti with three of his sculptures at the Venice Biennale in 1962
Giacometti with three of his sculptures at the Venice Biennale in 1962. Photograph: Archivio Cameraphoto Epoche/Hulton Archive

It was a mainline railway terminus until 1935, when trains departing for France’s western coast, serving Angers and Brest, were relocated to Montparnasse station. Limited suburban rail services continue to this day. The building became an Air France satellite “terminal” in 1946 offering services to the city’s southern airport, Orly, and Le Bourget to the north-east. Air France left the building in July this year.

The property is owned by the city of Paris and is to be completely renovated.


Kim Willsher in Paris

The GuardianTramp

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