Powerful Presence at Musée Picasso

Paris -- The Musée Picasso opened its doors this past Saturday after five years of remodeling the 17th-century mansion in the Marais district.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network were on hand for the opening.

French president, François Hollande cut the ribbon, opening a new era for the popular Picasso Museum.

The museum renovation has cost more than $60 million, as well as, the sacking of the institution’s president, Anne Baldassari, against the wishes of the Picasso estate. The Saturday opening coincided with the artist's birthday in 1881, and was free to the public.

French President Francois Hollande, chief curator Anne Baldassari and director Laurent Le Bon, pictured here, were on hand to view the installation.

As a preview, the Hôtel Salé was open free of charge all weekend for the public to come and admire one of the capital's finest architectural monuments: "the grandest, most extraordinary -- if not the most extravagant -- of the grand Parisian houses of the 17th century", as art and architecture historian Bruno Foucart wrote in 1985.

President Hollande said at the inauguration ceremony on Saturday, "the museum was one of the most beautiful in the world and one of the most moving because it brings together the considerable and prolific work of the best-known artist of the 20th century".

The ceremony, though, did little to hide the rancor surrounding the project, which featured the sacking of its director, a blast of criticism from the artist's son, lengthy delays, and a huge budget overrun.

But for Hollande, it provided a good opportunity to dig up nostalgia about the country's illustrious past and focus attention on its cultural achievements, and less on its failing economy.

"The talent of a nation can be measured by the importance it accords its artists," he said at the ceremony.

Spanish-born Picasso spent most of his life in France and the majority of his exhibits were left to the French state upon his death in 1973.

The museum, which first opened in 1985, boasts one of the world's most extensive collections of Picasso's work with 5,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and documents.

Housed in a 17th-century mansion in Paris's trendy Marais quarter -- it has been extensively modernized and enlarged to more than twice its previous size.

Visitors will discover the 17th century architecture restored by Stéphane Thouin, Chief Architect for Historic Monuments, and the contributions of Roland Simounet and architectural firm Bodin & Associés.

The exceptional opening weekend featured an exhibition of documents casting light on the site's history, its architecture, and the museum itself.

The Musee Picasso houses thousands of works that were in the artist's possession when he died in 1973, and were made over to the state by his family in lieu of taxes. The museum is expected to hold one major exhibition per year.

Pablo Picasso's grandson Olivier Picasso was on-hand offering personally guided tours, focussing in particular on his grandmother -- Picasso's lover and muse, Marie-Therese Walter. His personal tour is offered on today's Featured Art Video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxWT42Mc8sE&sns=em