Parliament set to vote on Abu Dhabi Louvre
9 October 2007, PARIS (AFP) - The French parliament was expected to approve plans Tuesday to build a branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, despite amid opposition from leftists who say the venture cheapens France's top art institution.
9 October 2007
PARIS (AFP) - The French parliament was expected to approve plans Tuesday to build a branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, despite amid opposition from leftists who say the venture cheapens France's top art institution.
Culture Minister Christine Albanel was to appear before the National Assembly to defend the deal reached this year with Abu Dhabi to help develop the museum on an island off the coast of the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
Under the 30-year agreement, Abu Dhabi will pay 400 million euros (525 million dollars) for the Louvre brand name and for loans of hundreds of artworks for periods of between six months to two years.
The French Senate endorsed the deal last month despite criticism from socialists and communists who decried it as a cheap commercial undertaking that had little to do with the promotion of the arts.
"This agreement marks a worrisome turning point in our museums policy," said former culture minister and socialist Catherine Tasca.
One of the leading opponents of the project and a former director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, Jean Clair, warned that approval of the Abu Dhabi Louvre would "sound the death knell of the museum as we know it."
"Are we not selling our soul?" Clair wrote in an opinion piece in Le Monde in December that set off a petition signed by 5,500 prominent figures of the French cultural world.
Critics complain that France's prized collections should not be put on loan, saying it would deprive the Louvre's 7.3 million annual visitors in Paris.
Some 300 works of art will initially be on display at the Abu Dhabi Louvre but that collection is expected to be trimmed down to 250 and 200 over the next 10 years.
Senior officials have said there are no plans to allow such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa to leave Paris and that the deal allows Paris curators to remove any work that may be at risk in Abu Dhabi.
French deputies were to vote later in the day on the project that is expected to be adopted as the governing rightwing party holds a comfortable majority in the National Assembly.
Construction of the 24,000-square-metre (260,000-square foot) gallery designed by French architect Jean Nouvel is due to start later this year and cost 83 million euros (109 million dollars).
The government of Abu Dhabi will foot the bill.
Subject: French news