No Abu Dhabi, no reserves ?

20/9/08 — Museums — Louvre Abu Dhabi — The French Ministry of Culture has been very adamant in calling for a new storage facility for the reserves of those museums located along the Seine river. The risk of record flooding for the century seems to indeed be quite real according to specialists.

It thus seems particularly shocking for the Louvre to use this pretext, with the blessing of the ministry, to demand that the other museums send works to Abu Dhabi since, as our readers may recall, their participation was supposed to be on a “volunteer” basis. The following statement appeared in a memo with a Louvre letterhead dating from 4 September 2008, concerning the preparation of the reserves project [1] :

the basis for financing the project will be shared proportionately [2] according to the use of the future reserves by each of the museums involved. The Louvre will be responsible for the laboratories as well as its own share. The overall financing — that is, the bottom line — will of course depend on the site, the financial arrangements, the budgeting possibilities engendered by local partnerships. A part of this project can be made possible by funding from each museum, particularly by an increased participation in the Louvre Abu Dhabi project and in related operations initiated by the Agence France Muséum.”

A bit further, in an annex retracing a preparatory note for a meeting which took place at the Minister’s cabinet rooms on 18 July 2008, the statement continues :

“All of the institutions at the ‘heart’ of this project [3] are supposed to profit from the Louvre Abu Dhabi project. Furthermore, the timeline for carrying out the creation of this reserves center calls for the first payments to take place in 2013, when the revenues from the ‘exhibition’ stage of the Louvre Abu Dhabi will start to come in. On the other hand, the Agence France Museums must be careful to take this into consideration (the needs of the “heart” institutions) in programming temporary exhibitions (as well as in the other stages of the Louvre Abu Dhabi project which, overall, is supposed to benefit French museums). Generally speaking, the agency should support those museums wishing to organize exhibitions in Abu Dhabi, in preparation for the future universal museum, much as the Picasso museum did recently.”

The jargon used here is nonetheless clear enough. For museums to benefit from the reserves building, considered indispensable for the safety of the collections, they have no other choice than to send works to Abu Dhabi, and the suggestion is that they should do so before the “Louvre” even opens officially in the Emirates. The Picasso Museum whose collections made a stop there during a world tour which emptied out the establishment (see news item of 20/6/07) is shown here as an example, instead of the deterrent it actually should be.

Version française

Didier Rykner, samedi 20 septembre 2008


[1] The exact title of the text is “global document for the meeting to organize the “Réserves” project of 8 September 2008 in the presence of the establishments involved or their representatives”.

[2] The bold lettering appears in the original document.

[3] The museums named at the “heart of the project” include, besides the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, the Orangerie, the Art Décoratifs, the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts and the Quai Branly.

imprimer Print this article

Previous article in News Items : Three Louvre miniatures recently attributed to Isaac Oliver

Next article in News Items : Delacroix acquired by the Met in tribute to Philippe de Montebello