Guide Tour of Palais Galliera, Fashion Museum of the City of Paris, France

Fashion Museum of the City of Paris in the Palais Galliera, is a French museum located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, dedicated to the art and history of clothing and haute couture. The Fashion Museum was inaugurated in 1977. It brings the history of fashion to life during prestigious temporary exhibitions, allowing the public to discover part of a rich fund of 90,000 pieces: the sumptuous clothes of the 18th and 19th centuries. centuries like the works of great couturiers and designers keep the memory of three centuries of fashion alive. Jewelry, walking sticks, hats, shoes, bags, fans, gloves, parasols and umbrellascomplete the collections, with also archives of photographs such as those of Henry Clarke, received in 1997.

Since 1977, the City of Paris has operated the Palais Galliera as the Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris, a permanent museum devoted to fashion. It displays exhibits of French fashion design and costume from the eighteenth century to the present day. It is one of the fourteen museums of the city of Paris managed since January 1, 2013 by the public administrative establishment Paris Musées.

The museum presents an average of two exhibitions per year on different aspects of fashion (periods, famous wardrobes, couturiers such as Margiela, Fortuny, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Alaïa, Comme des Garçons, Grès, Carven). Until 2021, there is no permanent presentation of the collections for conservation reasons. During the summer of 2021, a permanent collection will be installed for the first time, in the recently converted basements. It will present a history of fashion from the 18th century to the present day.

The Duke of Galliera was a partner in the urban planning firm Thome & Cie, and owned a large parcel of land in one of the finest neighborhoods in Paris. Upon his death in 1876, his wife, Maria Brignole Sale De Ferrari, the Duchesse de Galliera, became heir to his immense fortune. The duchess decided that she wanted to use the land to build a museum, at her expense, to hold their works of arts.

The Palais Galliera faces Brignole Galliera Square, immediately north of the Palais de Tokyo and one block east of the Musée Guimet. The architect Léon Ginain based his design on a palace that the Duchess Galliera owned in Genoa. In 1878 Duchesse de Galliera began a mammoth undertaking by building a Renaissance-style mansion to house her treasured art collection, a place to showcase her paintings, sculpture and objets. The museum is open to the public for temporary exhibitions,.

The building is faced in cut stone in the Italian Renaissance style supported by an underframe of steel, constructed by the Eiffel Company. The mosaic floors and domes are the work of Giandomenico Facchina (1826–1904). The statues on the façade that fronts Avenue du President Wilson represent “Painting” by Henri Chapu, “Architecture” by Jules Thomas, and “Sculpture” by Peter Cavelier. In 1916, a fountain was built in front of the museum.

On 22 June 1886, Jules Grévy and Georges Clemenceau convened the Chamber of Deputies of the French Third Republic and adopted a law expelling any person who was a direct heir of a royalist dynasty that had reigned in France. The Duchess Galliera, who had descended from the House of Orléans, was outraged by the law, no less because she had already donated the Hôtel Matignon to France. Unable to revoke her gift of the new museum, she abandoned the rest of her planned legacy to Paris. Thus, her collection of paintings and fine art were given to Genoa, Italy, where they are now displayed at the Palazzo Rosso and Palazzo Bianco.

Léon Ginain completed the Palais Galliera in February 1894, after the museum was completed, in the absence of the Galliera art collection, for which it was designed, the City of Paris used the museum for temporary displays. The first exhibition, devoted to portraits of women and lace, was inaugurated by President Félix Faure on 1 March 1895. It became a museum of industrial arts in 1902, and later, it served as space for temporary shows of modern art. The city also rented it to auctioneers for prestigious sales.

On the initiative of Maurice Leloir (1853-1940), painter, historian and collector, the Society for the History of Costume (SHC) was founded in 1907. On December 30, 1920, it made an exceptional donation to the City of Paris. While waiting to find a place to host the future municipal museum of costume, as required by the Society, the City deposits the donation at the Carnavalet museum. Nearly 2,000 pieces enrich the existing fund, and therefore, some rooms are devoted to the presentation of a very small part of the collections.

In 1954 the creation of the museum was definitively approved. From then on, some renovated rooms on the ground floor of the Carnavalet museum will be reserved exclusively for the presentation of the collections. The exhibitions at the Carnavalet museum will very quickly arouse the enthusiasm of the public. The enthusiasm translates into donations to the museum which continue to grow. The challenges of a more suitable place quickly arose and, in 1955, the choice of a new location fell on a large room on the ground floor of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. Considered an annex of the Carnavalet Museum, the Costume Museum was inaugurated there on November 23, 1956.

Due to a collapse of its ceiling, the museum was forced to close its doors in 1971. It returned to the Carnavalet museum for a time before the City of Paris considered its permanent installation in the Palais Galliera, which it owned. Its occupation does not take effect until the expiry of the commitments made for temporary exhibitions and auctions which are then held there.

In 1977, the Fashion and Costume Museum of the City of Paris moved to Galliera. Under the direction of Madeleine Delpierre, chief curator, the museum inherited the collections of costumes and accessories previously kept at the Carnavalet museum and thus joined the network of museums of the City of Paris which then had 14 establishments. Its reserves and its restoration workshops then invest the basements of the museum.

In 2010, Olivier Saillard succeeded Catherine Join-Diéterle as director of the museum. The new director wants to take advantage of the work to restore the museum to its former charm. With the rehabilitation of the exhibition rooms, the renovation of the courtyard, the bays, the wings and the sculptures – as well as the private spaces – the museum benefits from a considerable embellishment. During the work, Olivier Saillard leads a very active program outside the walls, in France and abroad.

In September 2013, the museum reopened. The public rediscovers it in the spirit of its architect, Paul René Léon Ginain, and in its original colours: Pompeïn red and waxed black give a new shine to the exhibition halls. This return to basics is accompanied by a name change and a new visual identity. The Galliera Museum then becomes the Palais Galliera, Paris City Fashion Museum.

Renovation work began at the end of the exhibition “Sous l’Empire des crinolines”, April 26, 2009, until September 28, 2013, for a total cost of five million euros. July 15, 2018, the museum is closing again for extension work in the basement and the creation of a bookstore-boutique and a café designed by Dominique Brard. Funded by the fashion house Chanel, the “Gabrielle Chanel” galleries have since doubled the exhibition area.

The museum reopens on October 1, 2020. The basement galleries, in red brick and freestone, increase the surface of the museum by 700 square meters. In addition, a workshop room for cultural and educational activities is initiated on the ground floor. The 5000 square meters of building are renovated, the balusters are consolidated and the facades are cleaned.

Maison CHANEL project of the Palais Galliera, started in the fall of 2018 and completed in July 2020, concerns the entire basement of the museum. The project made it possible to transform the vaulted cellars of the museum into exhibition rooms, to create a second vertical circulation with an elegant staircase linking the two existing levels of the building, and thus to double its surface area.

The Palais Galliera can now present, on two levels, larger temporary exhibitions, or exhibit its permanent collection. The new rooms will improve the public’s visiting experience, and the service offer will be developed thanks to the creation of a bookstore on the ground floor and a workshop devoted to educational and cultural activities on the ground floor. garden.

Finally, the closure for work on the Palais Galliera provided an opportunity to renovate 5,000 m² of magnificent facades and architectural ornaments. The balusters weakened by the weather have benefited from consolidation work, and the facades have been restored. The project is the result of the collaboration of two Parisian architecture agencies, L’Atelier de l’île and CIEL architectes. This project also called on several companies specializing in the restoration of old built heritage, in the fields of masonry, stone cutting, sculpture and roofing.

A new staircase in polished white concrete connects the two levels, from the Square Room adjoining the museum hall to the garden level at the entrance to the new galleries. Sculpted in solid mass, a compact block at the base becoming a simple incision in the floor of the ground floor, the staircase is treated in white concrete, continuing the minerality of the ground floor.

The clear and minimalist object seems to emerge from the floor of the building. This new staircase connects the two architectures in a modern way: the ground floor with its mosaics and painted ceilings on the one hand and the garden level with its terracotta-coloured brick vaults, its stone bases and arches. This same room will house the bookshop-boutique with furniture adapted to the image of the place.

The Palais Galliera preserves priceless collections, among the richest in the world. Estimated today at nearly 200,000 works (clothing, accessories, photographs, drawings, etc.), these collections reflect the codes of clothing in France, from the 18th century to the present day, and are regularly the subject of exhibitions at Paris, in France and abroad. Since October 2, 2021, they have been presented through an original route that offers visitors a history of fashion through masterpieces or lesser-known pieces from the Palais Galliera reserves.

18th Century Costumes, This department is one of the world’s leading collections of costumes from the Age of Enlightenment. Rich in some 1600 pieces, it brings together men’s and women’s clothing from the end of the 17th century to 1800 as well as children’s costumes and a few precious theatrical costumes which reflect both fashion and the textile industry of the enlightened century.

19th Century Costumes, The 5,300 pieces preserved in this department make it possible to retrace the history of fashion, as it was worn by the upper classes of French society, from the 1st Empire until around 1906, the date of the launch of Directoire style dresses. by Paul Poiret thus inaugurating the fashion of the 20th century. The collections include a majority of pieces from women’s wardrobes, ie 3,300 pieces, while men’s and children’s costumes are proportionally rarer, with 1,000 pieces for each of these categories.

Fashion of the First Half of the 20th Century, From the start of the 20th century to the appearance of Christian Dior’s New-Look in 1947, the Fashion department of the first half of the 20th century brought together more than 4,000 pieces.

Haute Couture, The year 1947 marked the history of fashion by initiating a new silhouette. Christian Dior presents his first haute couture collection for spring-summer and upsets codes by presenting what fashion editors immediately baptized the New-Look. Haute couture designates a production system luxury clothing, typically Parisian, aimed at women. It is then a question of entirely creating a garment to the proportions of the client in the most beautiful materials and the most demanding know-how. This proposal, far from the canon of women as they were modeled by the constraints imposed by the Second World War, inaugurated a golden age of Parisian haute couture, that of the 1950s.

Contemporary Creation, This set of approximately 7,000 pieces, extremely varied in terms of styles and functions, is classified by claws, brands or in chronological order when it comes to anonymous pieces. These have, however, more than documentary value: they bring to life the everyday fashions of the past six decades.The different typologies present testify to the evolution of fashion in France from the middle of the 20th century to the parades of the last season: ready-to-wear from couturiers, “bis lines”, ready-to-wear from stylists in the 1960s. then, designers from the middle of the following decade, street fashion and mass production found in all major cities around the world…

The “Underwear” department brings together a set of lingerie, body linen and corsetry of around 5,000 pieces. This mixed collection, where the share of objects from women’s wardrobes dominates, brings together underwear that dates from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day.

Fashion Accessories, Hats, shoes, bags and purses, muffs, scarves, jewellery, fans, canes, parasols, umbrellas, gloves, buttons, buckles… make up the accessories department, which covers a wide chronological period stretching from the end of the 17th century to our days. With approximately 35,000 works, it constitutes one of the most important collections, in France and internationally, both in terms of the number of pieces and their quality.

The Graphic Arts Cabinet brings together more than 55,000 works dating from the 18th century to the present day, divided between drawings, prints, invoices and advertisements.

The Photographic Collection, The Palais Galliera has a rich collection of 42,000 images, from the 1870s to the present day. Through their diversity, the photographic collections of the Fashion Museum of the City of Paris trace the history of fashion photography but also of clothing and fashion houses, testify to the diffusion of fashion, and, beyond, question the representation of the body.

Located in the very center of Paris, the reserves and restoration and preventive conservation workshops of the Palais Galliera are among the largest facilities in Europe in this category, with an area of 6,300 m2 distributed over three levels. The space is divided into two very distinct parts: the workshops on the ground floor and the reserves, the place for storing the parts in the basements. The workshops are made up of different spaces distributed according to the journey of the costume from its arrival to the reserves.

The storage of the pieces requires optimal specific conditions respecting the international standards set by the ICOM (International Council of Museums): maintenance of a constant atmosphere at 50% relative humidity and a temperature of 18°C, filtering of the air in order to avoid the maximum of dust and protection of the parts in covers and packaging in neutral materials.

The reserves, in the basements, are organized to contain all of the museum’s collections in strict compliance with these conservation conditions. Grouped by historical periods, by volumes, by series and by labels, the pieces are suspended or stored flat according to their fragility. They are housed in metal furniture and disappear in a maze of bays. Locked in drawers under so-called decanted cotton covers, protected from light and dust, the pieces are kept out of sight.

The furniture, specifically designed, is made of metal covered with hot epoxy paint. Open for better ventilation of the stored works, it is divided into two storage systems: the clothes are hung in the upper part, when they can support this mode of storage, or kept flat in the drawers of the lower part when they are too fragile or their weight and structure do not allow suspension.