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PARIS, May 21 (Reuters) – Treasures spanning thousands of years of Parisian history will be broadcast again in the city from next week, along with pistols from the French Revolution shown alongside a shoe believed to have been lost in flight by the guillotined Queen Marie Antoinette.
Long a hit with tourists as an introduction to Paris and its tumultuous past, the Carnavalet Museum is due to reopen after four years of renovations at a time when international travel is still largely suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Director Valérie Guillaume told Reuters the museum, run by the city of Paris, should quickly return to pre-COVID 19 models once restrictions ease, with foreign visitors making up about half of the public.
The 58 million euro ($71 million) overhaul involved expanding the exhibition space, including opening underground vaults. The building, in the Marais district, dates from the 16th century and became a museum in 1880.
It will now house 625,000 works – many of which are coming out of storage for the first time – and which include paintings, toiletry bags and tea sets used by Napoleon, early photos of the Eiffel Tower and gold coins from the 2nd century BC.
Other star attractions include a Neolithic canoe and the 12th-century gargoyle of Notre-Dame Cathedral.
Visitors can also wander through a recreation of writer Marcel Proust’s bedroom, with his real furniture and coat on display.
Many museums in France began reopening on May 19 after remaining under lock and key since last October due to the pandemic, forcing some exhibits to close earlier.
The Carnavalet also hopes to retain its appeal to locals.
“It’s the home of Parisians,” said architect Francois Chatillon, who designed the redesign. “It’s a museum where you can live, a bit like going to dinner with a friend. You can go one day and eat this, go back and eat that.
(This story corrects architect’s name to François Chatillon in last paragraph)
Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau and Sarah White, Editing by Alexandra Hudson
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