Openings Museums Controversies France

French Prime Minister intervenes in row over reopening the Musée Picasso

Under fire, the Paris museum's director enlists support of Picasso's son

Rumours are already circulating about a possible successor to the museum's director Anne Baldassari

A bitter row over the repeated delay of the Musée Picasso's long-awaited reopening in Paris has soured celebration plans for the event, and cast serious doubts over the future of its director, Anne Baldassari.

The museum was closed almost five years ago for major restoration work. It was finally due to re-open in June. But the French Minister for Culture, Aurelie Filipetti, confirmed this week that the date would be pushed back to mid-September, provoking a public row involving Baldassari, Picasso’s son Claude, and even the French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

The museum's director is not giving in without a fight. She rallied Claude Picasso and the renovation project’s architect, Jean-Francois Bodin, who openly challenged the minister’s decision to delay the opening.

“I have the feeling that France does not care about my father or about me,” lamented Claude Picasso in an interview with the newspaperLe Figaro. He demanded that “the museum be re-opened in June, under the leadership of Baldassari.”

The minister replied that the site was insufficiently staffed—partly because of the hostile environment that had been allowed to fester between the management and employees in recent years. Backing Filippetti, Prime Minister Manuel Valls—who met Claude Picasso—reminded him that the museum’s collection does not belong to his family, but to the French State.

Further inflaming the situation, several heritage protection associations have described the new extension as “hideous”.

Moreover, it seems that part of this extension may have been constructed illegally. The work was finalised in March, but the permit allowing it is dated only from 8 April. Baldassari says she did not give any instructions for work to proceed without a permit.

So, the museum’s doors will remain closed this summer. And rumours are already circulating about a possible successor to Baldassari: Laurent Le Bon, head of the Pompidou Centre in the eastern French city of Metz.

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9 May 14
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