Musée Carnavalet
Enhancing the overall museum experience


Architecture, Interior Architecture, Strategic Design


In 2016, Snøhetta was commissioned along lead architect Chatillon Architectes to undertake the architectural renovation of one of the most prominent museums in France: the historic Musée Carnavalet.

The renovated museum offers an enhanced visitor’s experience that provides a unique travel through time to discover the rich history of the city of Paris – a story told through 625,000 artefacts, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, woodwork, art pieces and photography.

Snøhetta has participated in the overall reorganization of the layout of the museum, working hand in hand with Chatillon Architectes to offer a new visitor experience that can accommodate for a large number of visitors all while carefully respecting the original features of the museum.

Technical details

Renovation & Expansion, Museum & Gallery
Paris, France

Paris Musées


Lead architect: Chatillon Architectes

11.000 m2

Photo: Antoine Mercusot

Situated in the 3rd arrondissement in Paris, in the historic and vibrant district of the Marais, the 11,000 m2 musée Carnavalet is the oldest of all Parisian museums, and before closing for renovation in 2016, the museum welcomed more than 400,000 visitors each year.

While Chatillon Architectes have overseen the overall museum restauration and redevelopment, Snøhetta has added a touch of novelty to the space through the design of the new furniture pieces in the reception area and contemporary staircases.

Photo: Antoine Mercusot

Photo: Antoine Mercusot

Throughout, Snøhetta has chosen to provide a dark consistent palette in coordination with the rest of the project and in particular with the new permanent scenography created by Agence NC (Nathalie Crinière) highlighting the detail and complexity of the displayed artefacts. The new and monumental staircases are designed as bold organic shapes in dark steel with a refined timber step work. The choice of powder coated metal for the staircases and solid wood finishes provides a strong resistance to use and longer material lifecycle.

The renovated reception area is designed for optimal use, and the ticket counters and cloakrooms have been reworked to increase the museum’s capacity and comfort

Because of its significant historic importance, the overall design of the museum is developed in close collaboration with the museum’s scientific and cultural teams, as well as a wide range of experts on the city of Paris.

The renovation carefully respects the original features of the building while restoring it to comply with current standards and enhancing the overall museum experience for all visitors. The latter is attained through the establishment of a more intuitive journey through the museum, the courtyards, and gardens, but also by making the building more adapted to children and people with disabilities. 10% of all artefacts are displayed at children’s eye-level.

In parallel with the overall museum restauration and redevelopment, more than 3,800 artefacts have also been restored to their former glory by experts. The project has also allowed for the display of 60 % of the artefacts that were previously stored in the museum’s reserves.

Snøhetta has also been in charge of the graphic design of the museum’s wayfinding, exhibition signs, panels and mediation equipment that will help facilitate the overall museum experience.

The collections all have a lot of intricate detail and historical patina, thus the development of a reduced and very stripped down system for signage and wayfinding was key. By using only black and white signs with a modern but friendly easy-to-read typeface information is communicated adding as little noise as possible, yet still stand out and are easy to spot, even in the most ornamented situations within the museum.

The signage and wayfinding system is modular aiming to accomadate flexible and efficient production with minimal waste.