M.S. Rau on Royal Street Unveils an Expansive and Elegant New Showroom
NEW ORLEANS – Stroll past the kids dancing with bottle caps on their shoes, sidestep the construction workers standing neck deep in a hole in the sidewalk and become momentarily mesmerized by the knowing gaze of the fortune teller at the entrance to Pirates Alley. She looks like she might know too much. Then walk through the automated sliding glass doors at 630 Royal Street and step into M.S. Rau’s new showroom. One look at the security guard behind the reception desk and the space full of impeccably lit marble statues and oil paintings and you’ll think you’re in a centuries-old art museum in Paris or Rome. In a recent press release, MS Rau said it has completed a “three-year and multi-million dollar renovation and expansion” of its 107-year-old French Quarter antiques business. That description doesn’t do justice, however, to the transformation that has occurred on Royal Street. This place looks so nice you’ll feel like you need to go home and change your clothes. It looks so nice that you feel like you should whisper and watch your elbows — which you certainly should as you stroll past displays of Fabergé eggs, Monet paintings and rare Kashmir sapphires. The Rau family purchased two buildings near their original shop in the 600 block of Royal and then converted the three spaces into a luxurious three-story, 40,000 square-foot showroom. “We did this because we’ve always cared tremendously about the things we deal in,” said Rebecca Rau, strategic business director and the fourth generation of Raus to help lead the internationally known antiques dealer. “We feel they are worth attention and study and appreciation and now we really have the space to show them off properly. It feels different, it feels special.” M.S. Rau’s new space contains several thousand rare and valuable historical objects that fall loosely and spill out of the categories of fine art, furniture and jewelry. Currently, the offerings on display include a Regency desk used by Napoleon to write his memoirs during his time in exile on St. Helena, a 10-carat blue diamond ring that can be yours for a cool $9.85 million (but comes with free shipping and gift wrapping if you order online) and three Norman Rockwell paintings that demonstrate different stages of the iconic 20th century artist’s development. The Rau family also just acquired a flag that traveled to the moon and back during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. So there’s something for everybody on your list. “We really have the advantage of being in a place with these historic buildings that are so expansive,” said Rau. “Some people who deal in paintings are often working out of an office space where they’ve fit 60 paintings in a closet and they have to take them out one by one. We really wanted people to be able to experience the collection as a whole. We wanted to give each object and each work of art the real estate it deserved to be appreciated.” M.S. Rau is open from 9 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visit rauantiques.com for more info.