Instagram Artists Remake Iconic Artwork to Promote Paris Museums

The Carnavalet museum, the archaeological crypt located under the parvis of Nôtre-Dame, and the Petit Palais are just three of the 14 institutions that comprise the municipal museums of Paris. Together, the consortium (also known as Paris Musées) welcomed over 3 million visitors in 2015. In that same period, 9.3 million people visited the Louvre. In a bid to generate greater interest and public awareness in the city's museums, Paris Musées recently launched a website where nearly 200,000 images from the various instutions are accessible online. As part of the kick-off, Paris Musées curators teamed up with ten well-known Instagramers--artists, photographers, fashion bloggers, and comedians--to reinterpret ten different works of art found in the municipal collections.

Instagram artists like @audrey.pirault and @rafaelmantesso selected paintings and photographs and gave them a funky, chic overhaul in tune with the social media generation. For example, an oil painting of the illustrious Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) by Georges Clairin (1843-1919) shows the comédienne draped luxuriously over a satiny divan. Instagrammer @miss_etc remade the portrait into a sumptuous selfie, showing the artist lounging on a beige sofa in pricey sneakers and flowy gown, holding her iPhone just right to capture the moment.


Georges CLAIRIN (1843-1919). Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923). 1876. Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville de Paris, Petit Palais. ©Petit Palais.


The Instagram exhibition is targeting a specific audience: People who do not go to museums. By inviting social-media darlings (each with hundreds of thousands of followers) to reimagine classic works of art, Paris Musées is battling the perception that museums are stuffy, irrelevant, out-of-touch cabinets of curiosity, and are in fact culturally relevant and hip.


Portrait de Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1923) reinterpreted by @miss_etc. Reproduced with permission from Paris Musées.


The Instagram exhibition is being held at the Gare Saint-Lazare. While a train station seems an odd choice for an art installation, the goal is to promote the city's museums to the greater, non-museum-going public, and thousands of commuters hustle through the massive station daily. Passers-by will also be invited to propose their own remakes and share them online using the #ParallèleParisMusées hashtag, the whole endeavor highlighting how technology can bridge the gap between art and audience.

Art, inaccessible? Not in Paris.

Check out the Paris Musées Instagram account at

                                                                                                                                                               The Instagram art will be on view at the Gare Saint-Lazare in Paris through July 31. More information is available here.