Dear Pierre Aidenbaum, Mayor of the 3rd District, Dear Danièle Pourtaud, Dear Deputy Mayor in charge of Heritage, Dear Philippe Bélaval, Dear Director General of Heritage, Dear Philippe Bélaval, Dear Director in charge of Museums of France, Dear Marie-Christine Labourdette, Regional Director of Cultural Affairs, Dear Muriel Genthon, Dear Anne Baldassari, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased with the opportunity to open the Picasso Museum and to be by your side at the top of this sumptuous staircase of the Hôtel Salé to present the museum’s metamorphosis. As you know, I wanted to launch an ambitious policy in the field of museums, at all levels, by supporting our major institutions in their strategic ambitions, by developing – through the “Museums Plan” announced in September 2010 – a proactive action in favour of 79 museums present in the regions, in relation to local authorities. Innovation in museum policy is at the heart of my action, with the idea that it is collections, their specificity, their history that feed different models of development. In an offer that is aimed at the world, in an increasingly open and sometimes dematerialized landscape, in front of heterogeneous audiences, there is not a model of growth for our museums in the 21st century, there are models, there are development strategies. The redesigned and renovated Picasso Museum is at the heart of this policy that I have engaged, concerned about the specificity of each collection, concerned about the works gathered there, concerned about the scientific professions that are at the heart of the very idea of a museum. Concerned also to think and invent the museum of the twenty-first century through its inscription in a new digital age, through its place in the city and in the landscape that surrounds it, finally through the idea of its displacement towards prevented audiences, distant audiences, to those who do not spontaneously go to the museum.

This project of extension and renovation of the Picasso museum, I wanted to promote it as soon as I arrived on rue de Valois. My approach is in line with that of my predecessors: André Malraux, the first, as a great friend of Pablo Picasso and lover of the arts, decided to create a national Picasso museum. He was also responsible for the heritage protection plan for the Marais district that saved the Hôtel Salé. Malraux was the driving force behind the process of regulatory innovation implemented in 1968 by Valéry Giscard d'Estaing with the law on the payment of inheritance duties in the form of works of art. The Picasso dation was the first to take place in France. It brought together several thousand works and constituted the largest public collection in the world of Picasso’s work as well as creating ex nihilo a large monographic museum.

In 1979, Michel Guy was responsible for choosing the Hôtel Salé – in full agreement with the artist’s family – to set up the museum. The Hotel Salé is a jewel of first order, of great heritage interest, testimony of the decorative arts in the time of Mazarin: it is the appropriate place for the presentation of the work of Picasso, who worked without life in workshops and buildings of comparable volumes. Jack Lang worked on the first renovation project of the hotel and the development of the museum entrusted to the great architect Roland Simounet. François Mitterrand inaugurated this important new museum in the autumn of 1985.

Today, it is an additional step that is being taken in favour of building a global centre of influence on Picasso in France. This country which the master discovered at the age of 19, where he settled in 1904 and where he lived and worked until his death in 1973, at the advanced age of 91.

Yes, it was necessary to restore the historic monument – what the Ministry did, what you did, dear Anne Baldassari, 2006 and 2009 by conducting a first restoration of the hotel’s facades and decorations. The project of «large Picasso museum» sees further. This is due to the global dimension, to the international recognition that surrounds this collection.With 5000 works and 200,000 archival pieces, it is not only the world’s largest public collection on the master, but it is also the only one that allows, by its quality and its diversity, a complete crossing of all the work of Picasso: painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving, photography, ceramics, illustrated books, films, manuscripts, documents and prints.

This collection, moreover, is the only one to testify to the artist’s creative process, through notebooks of drawings, states of engravings, photographic variations, models, correspondence and documents of all kinds.

Such narrow and unsuitable places could not absorb such attractiveness and enthusiasm in the long term. With 1600 m² of exhibition space on the hotel’s 5700 m², the museum was unable to fully deploy the wealth of the permanent collection. He was also forced to pick it up occasionally to organize temporary exhibitions, which could only frustrate public expectations. Moreover, it was materially impossible to exhibit the beautiful private collection of ancient and modern masters gathered by Picasso, as required by the clause of his donation to the State.

Since 1985, the public has become more demanding, more international and more informed. Great museums are places-worlds, territories of cultural experimentation that offer - beyond a collection, however exceptional it may be - a program of temporary exhibitions, scientific and cultural events, live or multimedia shows, educational and cultural services, adapted reception for school audiences, places of study, research and documentation. As many functions as this masterpiece of «mazarine» architecture could not satisfy in its configuration of 1985.

This is the ambition of the project launched in autumn 2011. The area now dedicated to the public will increase to nearly 6,000 m² of the 9,000 m² that the new site will have, which is remarkable in the dense and demanding urban fabric of the Marais, in the heart of Paris.

Equally remarkable was the method established for this project of restoration, restructuring, modernization and extension, conceived as a dialogue with the urbanism of the district, the historic character of the Hotel, and the important architectural proposal of Roland SIMOUNET. Indeed, the renovation program of the Salé Hotel plans to «restore» in their initial state the major facilities of Roland SiMOUNET which had been considerably degraded by 25 years of use. I would like to say here to Madame LANGRAND, companion of Roland SIMOUNET, the architectural singularity of his architectural work will be fully respected.

If the square meters increase, it is above all because the museum has decided to dedicate the historical monument to the noble functions of presentation of works and reception of the public. The administrative and technical functions (offices, reserves, various facilities) which occupied nearly two-thirds of the hotel, will be either buried, relocated or installed in adjoining buildings. These 900m² buildings were recently acquired by the museum from its own funds and will be renovated and refurbished during 2012. Visitors to the museum will, thanks to this restructuring, have access to new spaces, including the third floor located in the attic of the hotel, half of the second floor, the Commons, its pavilion and terrace, here to my left, which will now be able to welcome the public for an exceptional architecture course. One of the project’s architects, Mr. Jean-François BODIN, a Liberal architect who works closely with Mr. Stéphane THOUIN, Chief Architect of Historic Monuments in charge of the Salé Hotel, will tell us more about this later.

And then there will be the extension proper, the new wing that will raise the current garage of the museum located along the gardens and overlooking the Vieille-du-Temple street. In Roland Simounet’s project, this garage was intended to be the base of a building of artists' workshops before budget restrictions made it give up.

We will go in the garden later: everyone will appreciate the interest that there is today to build on this building plot of the museum, which became by the effect of time and the incompleteness of the 1985 project, a kind of urban wasteland in the heart of the Marais. The mayor of the 3rd district, who knows better than anyone the inconvenience of this wasteland, will not prove me wrong.

Indeed, this extension, of about 2000 m², will allow to create a gallery of temporary exhibitions, but also premises to accommodate the young public and school students. It will function as a real neighborhood equipment, open to the city and its inhabitants. The communication with the Hotel Salé will be done in the basement, and the construction will be done as part of the revision of the Marais Conservation and Development Plan (PSMV) and in an attentive and constant dialogue with the city of Paris which is, I remind you, owner of the Hotel Salé. An international architectural competition will be launched this fall. It will allow to choose the project that will dialogue the best with the architecture of the seventeenth century and the urbanism of the district.

Renovated and equipped with these new spaces, the Picasso Museum will offer from May 2013, the date of its reopening, a high-level scientific and cultural program that will make it a hub both Parisian and international.

Since your appointment in 2005, dear Anne Baldassari, I know how hard you have worked to boost museum attendance and develop an ambitious cultural and scientific programme. I think of the success of the exhibitions Picasso/Dora Maar, Picasso Cubiste, Laboratoire Central, 1937-2007:Tributes to Guernica, Picasso-Carmen, Daniel Buren: la Coupure, Picasso/Berggruen: a special collection.

Thanks to this project, thanks to the tripling of museum surfaces, the Picasso Museum can now fully enter the 21st century. The entire Hotel Salé will be dedicated to the permanent collections; a policy of reception of the public will facilitate the access and the valorization; the museum will regularly offer cycles of temporary exhibitions; events and live performances in resonance with the work and life of Picasso and the artists who were linked to him can be programmed; a world-class documentation and research centre can be created; the reception of people with disabilities will be facilitated and encouraged. Without forgetting a dynamic patronage policy through the creation of an endowment fund whose honorary presidency will be entrusted to a very great French patron.

This profound transformation, ladies and gentlemen, would not have been possible without two conditions and two prerequisites.

An institutional project on the one hand, prior to the real and cultural projects that I have just described. If the museum is in charge of its projects, if it has been able to buy its future office buildings, if it can build its scientific, cultural, heritage and economic policy for the years to come, This is because, like other major museums, it has been given the status of public administrative institution (EP) under the supervision of the Ministry of Culture and Communication (Directorate General of Heritage).

With the Picasso Museum, we pursued a decade of transformation into public institutions of the institutions of the ministry that had the scale to conduct a more autonomous scientific, cultural and economic project. This is a considerable reform, the effects of which you can all feel by measuring the dynamism of the Picasso National Museum in this phase of reconstruction.

Just a year ago, I attended the inaugural meeting of your board of directors. I was able to notice the commitment and credibility of this council, particularly that of legal and qualified personalities: Ms. Anne SINCLAIR, journalist and patron; Mr. Claude PICASSO, judicial administrator of the Picasso indivision; Mr. Jean-Paul CLAVERIE, Councillor of the President of Louis Vuitton-Moët Hennessy (LVMH); Mrs Maria EMBIRICOS, Grand Patron; Mr Pierre AIDENBAUM, Mayor of the 3rd district. Some are here this morning; I renew my gratitude and support for their commitment to this exemplary project.

While you had to conduct several heavy real estate projects, develop the museum’s geographical location, reorganize its work, prepare the reopening under renewed operating conditions, you and your team - a small but highly motivated team - led this company with determination and passion.

The second condition of this necessary moult is the international funding that you have managed to gather through the museum’s international exhibitions program. I know you deserve credit for this, I know the energy you have put in and are still putting in to raise the 35 million euros in the business plan. I wanted the State to accompany this decisive transformation with a commitment of 19 million until 2013. Because it is a question here of valuing a national heritage, of creating the conditions for a «desire to see» - or to review - prior to any ambitious cultural project open to the world.

You have succeeded in making what was a priori a weakness -the closure of the museum for works - a strength. Since the world can no longer come to the museum – it should be remembered that 65% of the museum’s attendance was international – the museum will go to the world! I am told that to date, from Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Tokyo, Helsinki, Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Seattle, Richmond, San Francisco, Taipei, Shanghai and Sydney, more than 4 million visitors have visited the Picasso Museum’s international exhibitions. By the time the museum reopens, that number will increase to over 6 million. That is to say, in 3 years around the world, half of the total attendance of the museum since its opening in 1985: 12 million visitors.

This international tour combines scientific, cultural and economic efficiency. I, who inaugurated the stages of Moscow and Saint Petersburg on the occasion of the France-Russia in 2010, I can testify that your exhibitions are both large didactic retrospectives of Picasso’s work and real journeys for the senses within the creative process that animates the master, animated by the spirit of «correspondence» - in the sense that Baudelaire lends to this word.

They combine paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, constructions, photographs, collected in a high scientific level catalogue. They are at each stage different, they adapt to the expectations and audiences of the host country. And I know that you keep a particularly scrupulous watch – and this is a point on which I know you to be as demanding as I am – on the preventive conservation of works. Experts in security, safety, conservation and insurance work on these sites to measure, anticipate and plan with your teams the best conditions for presenting French national collections.

In the host countries, these great retrospectives of Picasso’s work are the constantly renewed occasion of a celebration around French culture - I measured it in the dossier dedicated to the retrospective of Shanghai - as if he had deepened his knowledge of modern art, so much has Picasso been able to forge ties, so much has he been able to build and make rustle around him and his work a “plural world”, a “poetic of the diverse” (Edouard GLISSANT).

As you can see, ladies and gentlemen, the project to renovate and expand the Picasso National Museum is fully in line with the Department’s policy directions on museums. It is part of that ambition for innovation and development that is at the heart of my policy. By its monograph nature, by the prestige of its collections, by its history, it conducts an innovative and specific project that singles it out. With my presence here today, I felt that our major institutions are forging, in connection with the administration of the Ministry of Culture and Communication, with the Directorate General of Heritage, the tools and levers of their development, how they build the paths of their development. Cathedrals walled in the solemn silence of works and contemplation, museums of society and "places of memory" crossing the great vessel of time, museums-agoras open to the gesture of creators and nourished by social demand, museums-worlds open to cultural diversity and mixed cultures, places reinvented or reimagined by the touch of talented architects and scenographers: the diversity of the palette is eloquent! It is this diversity of talent, know-how and expertise that I intend to bring to life in the service of a policy of the Museums of France reconciling the requirement of tradition and the imperative of innovation.

Thank you.