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30.12.09

Musée du Luxembourg Will Close on January 17


Musée du Luxembourg
Over the summer the French Senate announced that it would close the museum that shares its lodgings in the Palais du Luxembourg. Since 2000, a private company called SVO Art had a special arrangement with the Senate to host exhibits in the museum space, some of which have been covered by Ionarts. When the current exhibit, on glass works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, closes on January 17, the museum will be dark until a new company is authorized to reopen the museum, supposedly in 2011. (The official quote was sans doute au début de 2011, which in French administrative language, as a French friend loves to joke, means "probably never.") Twenty-five salaried employees and seventy-five other workers will be laid off. An article by Michel Guerrin (Le Musée du Luxembourg fermé en 2010, December 29) in Le Monde has some more detail (my translation):
In an interview with Le Monde, on July 3, Gérard Larcher [President of the French Senate] described the relationship between the Senate and SVO art as "a real mess" (un vrai micmac) and said it was necessary to "come back to a clear state of things." The Senate intends to have more control over the museum it houses. It has made a request for proposals with the idea of establishing a delegation for public service for the maintenance of the museum. But "the conditions of this request for proposals are too constrictive," according to an employee questioned by Le Parisien, who gives as an example the fact that the new operator will have to take on the responsibility for the upkeep of the building while also lowering admission prices. In the meantime, two planned exhibits, including one on "Boats and the Impressionists," have been canceled.

The Musée du Luxembourg has drawn 5.5 million visitors in the last 10 years, which is quite a success in terms of audience numbers, even if the exhibits that were organized there were occasionally the object of negative criticism from specialists. Some high points for the museum have been the Modigliani exhibit in 2002-03 (545,000 visitors), Botticelli in 2003-04 (507,000 visitors), the Phillips Collection in 2005-06 (452,000 visitors), and the Italian painter Arcimboldo in 2007-08 (422,000 visitors).
The article also states that the museum's closing is related to a conflict, now two years old and currently in the courts, between Sylvestre Verger, the leader of SVO, and Patrizia Nitti, the museum's former artistic director, notably over the sharing of the profits of the exhibits. According to Verger, the Musée du Luxembourg brought in 637,000 € to the Senate in 2008.

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