Where heritage meets modernity

Many contemporary artists are regularly invited for 'happenings' in historical places.

Paris, le musée du Louvre et sa Pyramide illuminés © OTCP - DR

Surprising though it may seem, heritage and contemporary art are perfect bedfellows. Cross-disciplinary projects are all the rage these days, and it’s not unusual to come across contemporary art displayed in a museum or heritage site. Playing on aesthetic contrasts and opposing styles, these pairings are often deliberately anachronistic. Contemporary artists are regularly invited to organise “happenings” at historic sites, often setting up surprising contrasts and providing an opportunity to discover familiar spaces in a new light.

The Louvre likes to confront current artists with old masters. So, Yan Pei-Ming, Richard Serra, Tony Cragg and Eva Jospin have been invited to exhibit at this temple for arts of Antiquity. In 2016, French street art star JR made Ieoh Ming Pei’s celebrated pyramid “vanish” by covering it with a gigantic photographic collage. Other artists, including Anselm Kiefer, François Morellet and Cy Twombly have made their artistic mark by producing décors especially for the museum.

The Musée de la chasse et de la nature (museum of hunting and nature) boasts contemporary installations such as 'La Nuit de Diane', by Jan Fabre, which highlight the permanent collections, and also organizes exhibitions of artists of today.

Anish Kapoor à Versailles - Curve © Tadzio - Anish Kapoor 2015

In 2011, the Monnaie de Paris launched 'MétaLmorphose' - a programme of contemporary art featuring the biggest names on the art scene today: Paul McCarthy, Marcel Broodthaers, Christian Boltanski et Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maurizio Cattelan

Many national monuments provide a platform for contemporary artists, including JR at the Panthéon and Zevs at the Château de Vincennes. Laden with history, the Domaine national de Saint-Cloud will set the scene for "L’Homme Debout" - a sculpture series created by South Korean artist Chung Hyun - until 18 March 2017.

Since 2008, the Château de Versailles  has also thrown open its gilded gates to contemporary art and every summer it invites top artists to display works around the royal estate. Guest artists have included Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami, Xavier Veilhan, Anish Kapoor and, more recently, Olafur Eliasson.

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Musée du Louvre Member

Pyramide du Louvre, Paris, 75001

Every trip to the capital deserves a visit to the Louvre to discover the wealth of treasures it contains. The museum houses......

Château de Versailles Member

Place d'Armes, Versailles, 78000

Together with its gardens, the Château de Versailles is one of the most famous monuments of world heritage. The buildings trace......

Panthéon Member

Place du Panthéon, Paris, 75005

The Panthéon’s iconic silhouette and dome is perched at the top of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, the historic hill of the Latin......

Centre Pompidou Member

Place Georges Pompidou, Paris, 75004

The Centre Pompidou, designed by Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, is a 20th-century architectural marvel, immediately recognizable......

Monnaie de Paris - 11 Conti Member

11 quai de Conti, Paris, 75006

Founded in 846 AD, the Monnaie de Paris has had its artists' workshops installed in the centre of Paris at 11 quai de Conti since......

Château de Vincennes Member

1 avenue de Paris, Vincennes, 94300

The only fortified castle near Paris. It used to be a hunting lodge and royal residence, then a fortress and eventually a state......

Domaine national de Saint-Cloud

Domaine national de Saint-Cloud, Saint-Cloud, 92210

Overlooking the Seine and Paris, the Domaine National de Saint-Cloud offers fans of garden art, a 460 hectare park designed by Le......

Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

62 rue des Archives, Paris, 75003

The Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature is situated in the two mansions, the Hôtel particulier de Guénégaud (17th century) and the......