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Venetian Room Re-Opens

New York, May 8, 2018 – On May 31, after months of restoration, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy located in the Payne Whitney Mansion on 972 Fifth Avenue, will re-open to the public its jewel-like reception room known at the Venetian Room, one of the few remaining masterpieces of New York’s Gilded Age.  A 1902 commission offered as a wedding gift from Oliver Hazard Payne to his nephew, the financier and philanthropist Payne Whitney and his new wife, Helen Hay, the Payne Whitney Mansion is the last creation in 1906 by acclaimed architect Stanford White.

Located in the entrance lobby off the rotunda, it took to Stanford White several years and many trips to Europe to design the reception room with walls of mirrored panels, cornice of metal lattice entwined with porcelain flowers and 18th-century European furnishings.  Dismantled in 1948 for conservation concerns, the pieces from the room remained in storage until 1997, when the Hay Whitney family donated them to the French Embassy to be set back in place. However, over the past year, the critical condition of the room had made the conservation project a priority to the Cultural Services. 

 

An initial analyses and a report from Pascale Patris, Conservator at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York helped assessing the degree of renovation needed. In 2017, the French Embassy launched a campaign to raise funds for the restauration. Once completed, they started this past march, collaboration with France-based studio of restoration Atelier de Ricou and with it the many-step restauration process, from general preservation to cleaning of the ornamental elements.  

 

Starting this June, the room will be available again see for both design aficionados and curious visitors on their way to Albertine Books, the bookstore and reading room in French and English, located within the Cultural Services. Videos on the history of the mansion, the Venetian Room, as well as on the missions and programs organized by the Cultural Services will be available to all in the entrance hall. 

 

To celebrate the inauguration of the newly-renovated room and to thank those who supported the renovation, , the Cultural Services will host a private garden party on May 31st at 7pm. This event is open to members of the press. The event will be the opportunity for an exclusive peek at the recently renovated Venetian Room before it is accessible to the general public. It will feature live music, guided tours of the room and the Payne Whitney Mansion, and floral displays designed by Interior Decorator Odile de Schiétière-Longchampt, awarded of the Insignia of Chevalier of the Order of National Merit in 2010.

 

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. www.frenchculture.org.

 

Media Contact: Camille Desprez: +1 (212) 439-1417/ camille.desprez@diplomatie.gouv.fr / frenchculture.org