Art Workshop of the Réunion des Musées Nationaux
This hidden workshop is filled with molds of France's most iconic sculptures.
Paris is home to many delightful things, baguettes and beautiful art among them. The city’s monumental Louvre is the largest art museum in the world, holding roughly 38,000 objects from antiquity to present day in one pyramid-shaped building. Naturally, paintings fade and three-dimensional objects lose their luster, making the Louvre an ideal candidate to have its own art recreation and rehabilitation center, if you will.
Founded in 1794, the Louvre’s sculpture casting atelier lives in an unassuming warehouse dedicated to recreating the museum’s most iconic sculptures for purchase. Officially known as L’Atelier de moulage de la Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand Palais, this centuries-old casting studio does more than preserve art. It preserves history, too, and prolongs the life of France’s much-beloved sculptures along the way.
The workshop was originally based in the body of the Louvre itself before the need for more space caused the molds to move to their current place in Saint-Denis. And understandably so: the studio holds roughly 6,000 molds made from original sculptures, and has provided replicas of time-worn statues to various architecture schools, national museums, and even the Palace of Versailles! (This atelier is responsible for more than half of the garden’s statues, and holds the originals in its archives.)
Beyond replication, the studio is also called upon to restore damaged antique sculptures, particularly ones relevant to France’s rich history. And in addition to recreating sculptures, the atelier also has antique pressing machines on hand to recreate historical prints. The original copper plates used for this process are locked away in a passcode-protected room, but the images produced are for sale.
The atelier is, perhaps surprisingly, open to the public on select days and works with individual clients on commissioned pieces as well.
Know Before You Go
Visits are arranged once a month on Fridays.
The atelier has a boutique beneath the Louvre's pyramid.
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