MAXXI, 4A Via Guido Reni, 011-39-06-32810, http://www.fondazionemaxxi.it; open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Thursdays and Saturdays. Admission: $16.
Aren't there already enough museums in Paris? you ask. The Louvre alone has more than 5 miles of galleries visited by millions of people every year who file past masterpieces, all too often looking without really seeing. "Museums are the cemeteries of the arts," said writer André Malraux, who served as French cultural affairs minister during the 1960s.
To rouse the dead, as it were, the Pinacothèque de Paris plans to mount six high-profile exhibitions a year featuring artworks from private collections, often never before seen by the public, while showing its own small but distinguished collection of new and old masters. Director Marc Restellini says the Pinacothèque's arrangement style will stimulate dialogues between seemingly disparate works, revealing themes and correspondences that run across the history of art.
One of the two buildings occupied by the museum on the Right Bank near the Place de la Madeleine began showing special exhibitions in 2007. But this year the opening of a second building in an Art Deco landmark around the corner brought the Pinacothèque into full operation, with showings of art collected by the Romanov czars of Russia and the Hungarian Esterhazy family, as well as an exhibition devoted to the work of Italian comic book artist Hugo Pratt.
When these exhibitions close, three more will open for the fall-winter season: "The Etruscans and Giacometti," on the Swiss sculptor's fascination with the art of ancient Italy; "Expressionism: 1905-1915, Berlin-Munich"; and a show featuring Dutch golden-age masterpieces from the collection of Ilona and George Kremer, including seldom-displayed paintings by Rembrandt and Pieter de Hooch.
At the Pinacothèque, I sampled the surprises of the museum's permanent collection, composed of 100 pieces ranging from a 1,000-year-old West African totem to paintings by Modernists such as Fernand Léger, Wassily Kandinsky and Mark Rothko. In September, they will be joined by a recently acquired panel of Christ and his mother, Mary, by Italian Renaissance master Sandro Botticelli.
It's hard to keep up with the Pinacothèque, where change is the norm. New choices are part of what it brings to Paris, along with smaller, more manageable, creatively themed exhibitions for art lovers who've already tramped through the Louvre.
The museum has a bookshop, but no cafe or restaurant. No need; the renowned gourmet food shop Fauchon is just next door.
Pinacothèque de Paris, 28 Place de la Madeleine, 011-33-1-42-68-02-01, http://www.pinacotheque.com; open 10:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m. (until 9:30 p.m. Wednesdays). Admission: $15.