As Parisians exit their third lockdown, they’re about to enjoy the French capital’s newest cultural venue, a 10,500 square meter (113,00-square foot) museum in the city’s former commodities exchange, renovated and filled with art courtesy of billionaire Francois Pinault. The Bourse de Commerce-Pinault Collection will open to the public on May 22.

Located in the heart of Paris, the round building dates to the mid-18th century, when it was built as a center of the city's grain trade known as the Halle au Blé. A 16th-century column from the era of the French queen Catherine de Medici was attached to the building’s exterior, where it has remained to the present day.

Even as the building’s use stayed the same, it went through a series of modifications, including the addition of a spectacular metal and glass dome in 1812. Then, in the late 19th century, the building was renovated and turned into a commodities exchange (bourse de commerce), and remained in use for another hundred years.

Pinault initially wanted to build a center for his art collection on an island on the outskirts of Paris. But bureaucratic delays and urban planning requirements led him to abandon the project in 2005 and pivot to his collection’s two buildings in Venice, the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana.

In 2015 though, Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo pitched him on the Bourse building as yet another location for his collection. She offered him a 50-year lease for a lump sum of 15 million euros plus annual fees of around 60,000 euros. “I did not hesitate for a second,” he said in a statement.

In order to turn the building from a former commodities exchange (it later became the Chamber of Commerce) into an art gallery, Pinault hired Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The building’s renovations started in 2017 and were completed last year, and cost around 160 million euros ($194 million).

The plan is to stage up to 15 shows a year with Pinault’s own collection hanging alongside loans for curated and thematic exhibitions, according to Martin Bethenod, the deputy Chief Executive Officer of Bourse de Commerce. There will be solo shows, in-situ projects, and standalone artist commissions designed specifically for the building.

Pinault’s collection contains around 10,000 works by nearly 400 artists. The 84-year old Kering founder has been involved in the art world, and art market, for decades. He first invested in auction house Christie’s in 1998 via his personal holding company Artemis. Pinault’s net worth is estimated to be $53.6 billion by the Bloomberg Billionaires index.

The Bourse is located within a 10-minute walking distance from the Louvre and Pompidou museums as well as a 30-minute taxi ride from the Fondation Louis Vuitton, a contemporary art center that opened in 2014 under the patronage of another luxury mogul, Bernard Arnault. 

A restaurant called La Halle aux Grains (The Granary) run by chefs Michel Bras and his son Sebastien is located on the third floor. 

Visitors will be surprised by the mix of old and new once they enter the Bourse: Ando designed a nine-meter high, self-contained concrete cylinder in the center of the main rotunda. Inside the cylinder is one of the building’s 10 art galleries; the rest are located on the ground, first and second floors as well as the basement, which also houses an auditorium. 

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