Paris’s Grand Palais is set to close for two years starting in 2020 so that the historic exhibition venue can undergo essential maintenance and renovation work.
Sylvie Hubac, president of the government-run cultural organization Réunion des musées nationaux, told the Art Newspaper that, once complete, the venue will provide “exceptional high quality, generous exhibition spaces to accommodate our partners and visitors”
But the temporary closure of the Grand Palais will force three of France’s flagship art events—FIAC, Paris Photo, and the recently-renamed La Biennale Paris, formerly the Biennale des Antiquaires—to seek an alternative home in 2021 and 2022 before the Grand Palais’s reopening in 2023.
FIAC director Jennifer Flay is already planning ahead. Speaking to artnet News at last year’s edition of France’s premier art fair, Flay said that preparations for the temporary move were already underway.
“We are a site-bound fair,” she admitted, “and we have very prestigious sites outdoors as well, like the Jardins de Tuileries and Place Vendôme. We’re already thinking about alternatives, which will have to be on the same scale. We’ll be ‘glamping’ for a couple of years, but always within sight of the Grand Palais.”
However, with its history, setting, and abundance of natural light, the atmosphere of the iconic Grand Palais will be difficult to replicate. Much of the success, unique charm, and character of FIAC and Paris Photo is credited to the magnificent venue, constructed for the Exposition Universelle, the 1900 world’s fair.
Ahead of the announcement of the temporary space for the 2021 and 2022 editions—which is due to be revealed later this year—the art world is already speculating what alternatives fair organizer Reed Exhibitions can come up with. Early front runners include the Petite Palais, adjacent to the Grand Palais, which was already partly occupied by FIAC in October 2016, and a temporary tent in a central Paris location.
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