Galleries, Lifestyle, Museums, Paris
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A glass cloud? A floating sailboat? A smashed perfume bottle?

Nope, it’s the new Fondation Louis Vuitton recently opened in the Jardin d’acclimatation in the Bois de Bologne in the west of Paris.
The merging of two visions between LVMH’s CEO, Bernard Arnault and Frank Gehry the controversial Canadian-American architect-extraordinaire. I headed there on a very grey Parisian day with my youngest strapped into his pram. There is no doubt when you arrive at the entrance that this building is special. It is ginormous in size and the shiny Louis Vuitton Logo stands out like a diamond encrusted brooch on the entrance lapel . From the publicity photos the building seems as if it’s floating like a glass cloud above the park and has in fact been described as a “cloud of glass – magical, ephemeral, all transparent” by Mr Gehry himself in a 2006 interview with the Guardian . But as I stood outside admiring it’s size I didn’t get a sense of anything light – the gallery is imposing, grand, powerful and dominant – which is perhaps a reflection of the luxury conglomerate itself.

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As you walk in the doors leading to the ground floor, you’re again engaged by the enormity and transparency of the space and immediately find the details of the structure demanding your attention. The space is surprising and unpredictable, the sharp angles of the inside of the building strongly contrast the softer glass “sails” of the outside panels. There are nooks and crannies that show the outside landscape and quiet reflective spaces. There are lots of stairs, which again give you different perspectives of the exterior surroundings.

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The galleries displaying the art are wonderfully quiet – there is no echo – so you can view the works of art without being distracted by heels tapping or people’s conversations vibrating. I did find myself getting a little confused by the flow of the museum and sometimes felt a little like Alice in a giant glass bubble of wonder trying to find the stairs to the next level, the lift that goes up and not down and a gallery I hadn’t seen, and judging by the same faces I saw over and over, I’m guessing they were having the same journey. At times, there is the sense that you are in the bowls of a ship, the metal is heavy, cold and raw. The finesse of luxury was missing and immediately jumping to mind is the Pompidou Center – another famous and provocative modern museum. The white metal and rawness of the modern art building hasn’t aged well which may be the same for the Fondation Louis Vuitton in a few years, and as for all the glass panels – it’s may take an army of window cleaners to keep these sparkling.

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The best thing about the museum are the rooftop terraces, they are visually incredible and at this time of year as the trees turn red, orange and yellow it’s a masterpiece all on its own and I imagine that every season will bring it’s own personality, giving more reason to visit the museum over and over. http://www.fondationlouisvuitton.fr

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