After several postponements, Paris has just celebrated the June 12 opening of the Hôtel de la Marine, a new museum & monument located on the Place de la Concorde. The 18th century palace was the former headquarters of the French Navy from the French Revolution through 2015.
But it all started before the French Revolution in 1748 when Paris City Hall wanted to build a statue honoring Louis XV. The king selected the site at the western end of the Tuileries Garden, now the Place de la Concorde and known then as the Place Louis XV.
The Hôtel de la Marine is one of the two great palaces (the other houses the Automobile Club of France and the Hôtel de Crillon) designed to adorn the royal square ordered by Louis XV in the 18th century. Designed by the architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, this historic building opened in 1774 as the "Hôtel du Garde-meuble"—the crown’s furniture and decorative arts repository. This institution was in charge of supplying and maintaining the furniture of royal residences: Versailles, as well as Compiègne, Fontainebleau, Marly, Choisy, Trianon, Rambouillet, Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Montreuil.
During the French Revolution in 1789, Louis XVI and his ministers were forced to leave Versailles for Paris. It was then that the Ministry of the Navy moved partially to the Garde-meuble. In 1806, it occupied the entire building which became the "Hôtel de la Marine". The Navy remained there until 2015... The new museum will showcase the royal and French state’s period furniture, tapestries and decorative objects, displayed in the palace’s ceremonial ball rooms and the re-creation of the private apartments of Baron de Ville d’Avray, the royal steward and his wife under Louis XVI.
It is open to the public 7 days a week with an exceptional cultural offer. Accompanied by their “Confident” audio-guide, a helmet offering spatial 3D sound, visitors are invited to an immersive visit of the sumptuous fully refurnished apartments and ceremonial living rooms allowing access to an open loggia on the Place de la Concorde. Several visit scenarios are offered - including one specially designed for families - for a tailor-made experience of 30 to 90 minutes. Finally, the exhibition gallery of the Hôtel de la Marine presents for the first time permanently a renewed collection of masterpieces from the Al Thani Foundation Collection.
The beauty of the architecture, the refinement of the decorations, the multiplicity of activities offered will allow the visitors to plunge into the intellectual and creative effervescence which was that of the eighteenth century and which, even today, is associated with the image from France.