The Keys to Algiers Will Remain at the Musée de l’Armée

Keys to the city of Algiers
Handed Over to the French
by the Dey Hussein
when the City Surrendered
on 5 July 1830
Photo : Musée de l’Armée

14/12/12 - Deaccessioning - Paris, Musée de l’Armée - The keys to Algiers, which the President of the French Republic was supposed to give Abdelaziz Bouteflika on his upcoming trip to Algeria next 19 and 20 December 2012 (see news item of 30/11/12) will fortunately remain in their museum.
The Elysée Palace has dropped its illegal plan, in fact strongly contested within the Ministry of Culture. Both military officials and high-ranking members of the Ministry of Defense had also expressed their disfavor and had taken the initiative last night to submit a request to the judge in chamber at the Paris administrative court (via a private individual as a "user [...] of the Musée de l’Armée"). Its account of the affair points out the legal basis which prohibits deaccessioning of public collections and which can only be approved after a very precise process, along with the agreement of a specific commission.

Nor will François Hollande hand over the canon known as Baba Merzoug (or the Consulaire) whose restitution had also been considered. As opposed to the keys, this piece of artillery protecting the citadel of Algiers, today held at the Arsenal in Brest, has long been claimed more or less officially, by Algeria.
However, the French president will not arrive empty-handed. He will present a small painting by Jean-François Millet, entitled The Beakful, to the Musée Zabana (formerly the Musée Demaeght) in Oran ; this work had been stolen in 1985 and resurfaced in France [1].

Version française

Didier Rykner, mercredi 2 janvier 2013


[1] The painting had been stolen along with another canvas by the same artist, The Dead Doe, also found in 2001. The latter, deposited at Oran by the Louvre, is a M.N.R., that is a Jewish asset looted during the war but with unidentified owner. Although it has also been claimed by Algeria - who is not the rightful owner - it remained in France, at the Musée d’Orsay, and is available for future restitution to the descendants of the collectors who were looted during the war.

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