PARIS — The Musée des Arts Décoratifs (MAD) is about to embark on a major renovation of its fashion galleries, thanks to a 2.5-million-euro gift from Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman and his wife, Christine.
The donation will help the museum restore the original architecture of the 14,000-square-foot space, which has hosted exhibitions dedicated to Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga and Louis Vuitton. A Christian Dior retrospective in 2017, which spilled over into the neighboring nave, saw a record attendance of more than 700,000 visitors.
The U.S. couple sponsored the Costume Institute’s “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art alongside Versace. Blackstone in September sold its 20 percent stake in Versace to Michael Kors Holdings Ltd., which was renamed Capri Holdings in the wake of the deal.
The MAD fashion galleries will close in March for the one-year renovation, to be carried out by Studio Adrien Gardère, whose recent projects include the design of the permanent collection galleries at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. The design firm is also working on a new V&A collection and research center to be built in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The scenography of the space will be renovated to better highlight the MAD collection of more than 150,000 pieces — including designs by master couturiers such as Gabrielle Chanel, Paul Poiret, Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Madeleine Vionnet — in addition to costumes, props, textiles, drawings and photographs.
The project comes amid a drive by Paris City Hall to enhance the City of Light’s reputation as the worldwide capital of fashion. The Palais Galliera fashion museum is also closed for a 5.7-million-euro renovation designed to create a space for permanent exhibitions, which Chanel is financing as exclusive sponsor.
Pierre-Alexis Dumas, president of the MAD, noted that the Schwarzmans were longtime supporters of the institution. “By funding this crucial renovation for the museum, they are underlining how fashion is a universal value in our contemporary world, and how it is an important part of our identity,” he said in a statement.
“We are honored to support the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and proud to play a role in ensuring that the history and culture contained in its vast collections are appreciated long into the future and for transmission purposes,” Stephen and Christine Schwarzman said in a joint statement.
The couple are active philanthropists, having donated 3.5 million euros toward the renovation of the formal gardens at the Château de Chambord in France’s Loire Valley. Schwarzman has also made sizable donations to the New York Public Library, which named a building after him, and Yale University, among others.
Schwarzman has been awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest civilian distinction, and been appointed a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, making him one of the only Americans to receive both awards recognizing significant contributions to France.