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Villa Paloma

NMNM - Villa Paloma


Based on information that has thus far come to light, it was an American, Edward N. Dickerson, who, in 1913, pooled six plots of land belonging to different proprietors in order to have a villa built and create a garden, in the Révoires neighbourhood, on the Boulevard de l'Observatoire. It would seem that a pavilion already stood on the main parcel, which was sold by Mr. Eugène Roganne, a sculptor and ornamentist.

The villa, called the "Villa Coquette" by Mr. Dickerson, was a four-storey building. Some maintain that the architect was the famous Sébastien Marcel Biasini, but because he passed away in 1913, this seems most unlikely.
After being sold a first time in 1920, the Villa was then purchased in 1925 by Robert W. Hudson, an Englishman, whose father had founded a liquid soap factory in England. When he retired, Robert Hudson was comfortably well-off, and in 1925 he bought the Villa which, after his marriage in 1932 to Béatrice Sabina Gaudengio, would become the "Villa Paloma". It is said that Béatrice Gaudengio owned a house already called the "Villa Paloma" at Cap d'Ail, and that she wished to keep that same name for the Villa in Monaco.

Mr. Robert W. Hudson was well-known in Monaco for his great generosity. In 1937 he created the Foundation which bore his name, whose purpose was to promote the learning of English in the Principality.

The Villa was greatly damaged during the Second World War, and thus in a sorry state when, on Mrs. Hudson's death in 1950, Mr. Joseph Fissore bought the house. After their marriage, the Fissores undertook major restoration work, installed a swimming pool, and restored the long abandoned garden to its former glory.

In 1993, a Monegasque Company purchased the Villa from the Fissore family. Two years later, it was sold to the State of Monaco. In 2008 it was decided to give it over to the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco.

The Villa Paloma is one of the finest patrician residences in the Principality. We may not know the precise date of its construction, but we do know that the Villa's garden was entrusted to the capable hands of Octave Godard, the most gifted of the students of the famous landscape artist Edouard André [1840- 1911]. Godard created one of the "antique-style" gardens which had become his specialty.

The stained-glass windows in the large entrance hall were made by the Master Glazier Fassi Cadet, of Nice.




The Villa Paloma, transformed into a National Museum, was bound to keep its original appearance in the midst of a terraced garden surveying the City. For all this, its new function caused upheavals in all the uses of the original site. So the initial reception located at the central level of the building extremely close to the noises of the street was no longer able to respond to the access plan desired for such a museum, a plan offering visitors the time required to unwind and relax in a situation of suitable serenity and open-mindedness prior to their museum visit. So access through the garden became a must and the entrance to the building was located on its lowest level occupied by the old service premises. Freed from all secondary partitioning, the Villa's four levels, served by the main staircase which it was nevertheless necessary to extend to the garden level, have abandoned their overly domestic aspect and taken on sparer volumes, better suited to the presentation of the works.

But the Villa's inner soul has not disappeared. It is still there in the conservation of the décors of its main staircase, its stained-glass windows, its mosaics, its columns, and its ceiling cornices. It is also still evident in the attention paid to keeping certain prospects towards the exterior: so in each exhibition room, two windows, even when of reduced dimensions to retain maximum hanging surfaces, make it possible to keep the charm of natural lighting, and still experience the villa in its surroundings.

Needless to say, it was necessary to introduce the technical elements necessary for the presentation and conservation of the works without disfiguring the interior volumes, already with very low ceilings. So the Villa's floors have been strengthened, the façades extremely well insulated, all the window frames given insulating properties with thermal systems, the interior walls lined with a skin suitable for hanging artworks, the distribution of conditioned air disguised in the walls themselves, and the lighting apparatus chosen for its performance and small size so that it can be hidden in the ceilings. The exhibition rooms thus assume the appearance of spare volumes, clad in an almost pure white, relieved by nothing other than the works.

All the Villa's areas are accessible to the public and devoted to exhibitions. The technical and logistical premises have been established in an underground extension made where the old swimming pool used to be, its roof today forming the access forecourt to the museum. Because this did not suffice, and after toying with the idea of a conspicuous contemporary extension in place of the service building attached from the outset to the villa, we were asked to use this latter but keep its dimension and general aspect.

The garden enshrines the Villa: we have retained its terraced Italianate look surveying city and sea, doing our utmost to keep the existing vegetation and create links with the Parc Princesse Antoinette and the Museum of Anthropology.

Some facts and figures

Original existing surfaces
640 m2
Surfaces of the new museum
875 m2

The people involved


Leonardo Perez, project director

Project management

Alexis Blanchi, architect

Antoine Tain, director of works
Véronique Viale, landscape artist
Renaud Piérard, architect and museographer
Philippe Michel, lighting designer
Béatrice Fichet, graphic designer