Frank Gehry’s New Louis Vuitton Museum Leaves Parisians Speechless

Frank_Gehry_Vuitton_MuseumPARIS – The unlikely combination of architect Frank Gehry and the fashion house Louis Vuitton has stunned most Parisians into utter silence with its unique style and beauty.

Gehry has once again created a spectacular space, this time for the Fondation Louis Vuitton museum located in the Bois de Boulogne park in Paris. The initial display there is about the building itself, including models and a time-lapse film.

LVThe museum is adjacent to the Jardin d’Acclimatation, Paris’ original theme park, opened in the 1860s and since then having gone through many ups and downs.

It was recently acquired by another of Vuitton’s philanthropic branches and is being restored and updated. Fog billows up periodically around the small river in the Jardin – not far from the “lake,” or water garden, upon which the museum seems to float. Purple spouts of water leap into the mist from around the perimeter at random intervals.

The museum’s inaugural exhibition is about Gehry‘s design and construction of the  building itself, and the main exhibition space displays all of the models, plus sketches and much additional work that went into the making of the structure, which includes elements named “The Iceberg” and “Sails.”

Gehry himself explains the museum’s design as an iceberg enveloped by glass sails.

La_FondationSome of the materials used are cutting-edge. The glass sails, for instance, really are glass, designed and tested to withstand gale-force winds. Gehry won the American Institute of Architects‘ award of excellence in 2013, and the French National Grand Prix of Engineering in 2012, for the design. More than 350 architects, engineers and technicians worked on translating Gehry’s design into reality. Then 250 construction workers converged on the site – home, formerly, to a bowling alley.

A time-lapse presentation is worth watching. You see the construction workers and the scaffolding and the shell metamorphose into an edifice over the march of the seasons, the building set in a field of snow, of bare trees, of greenery, of fall color.

On the entrance end of the room is another video, which shows the building situated in the Bois de Boulogne, a historic oasis of nature for Parisians. The building looks right in its location, its translucent facade an homage to the 19th century glass-and-garden architecture that was popular when the Jardin d’Acclimatation was created.

Fondation Louis Vuitton is dedicated to the work of living artists. It has commissioned several pieces already on display, including Ellsworth Kelly’s Spectrum VIII, a multipaneled, multicolored curtain, plus art from its collections.

Getting There

The Fondation Louis Vuitton is at 8 avenue du Mahatma Gandhi in the Bois de Boulogne, in Paris’ 16th Arrondissement.

The museum has its own shuttle – a small electric bus that departs from the Place Charles de Gaulle at Avenue de Friedland, near the entrance to the Metro. Shuttles come every 15 minutes or so and drop you right in front of the museum – the easiest way to go without having to do some walking from public transportation. The shuttle costs 1 euro, about $1.25, each way.

For the Metro, take Line 1 to Les Sablons station, and take the Fondation Louis Vuitton exit. Fondation Louis Vuitton is a 10- to 15-minute walk from the station.

Another idea, if you’re so inclined, is to take advantage of the public bike system, Velib’. Pick one up at the nearest rental rack from your starting point; there’s a Velib’ station right in front of the museum.

Hours

Noon to 7 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, until 11 p.m. Friday, and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Tuesdays.

Admission

14 euros; under 26, 10 euros; under 18, 5 euros; under 3, free; 32 euros for a family (two or more adults and up to four children under 18). Admission includes access to the Jardin d’Acclimatation.