The price of a Picasso loan
Musée Picasso director reveals the cost of borrowing
By Gareth Harris. Museums, Issue 223, April 2011
Published online: 06 April 2011
PARIS. The director of the Musée Picasso has defended her decision to organise an international touring exhibition to raise money for the Paris museum’s renovation. Anne Baldassari, the museum’s director, told Le Monde: “Producing exhibitions abroad is our only resource. Japanese museums suggested remuneration for loans, which has been a practice of US and European museums for a while.” She added that money received also helps finance conservation and acquisitions.
Baldassari revealed the museum raised between €1m and €3.5m a year since 2008 from the touring exhibition “Masterpieces from the Picasso Museum”. It has visited eight cities so far, including Madrid, Helsinki and Tokyo. “We have made [in total] €16m,” she said, adding that the museum levied different charges for loans. “The tariffs vary according to the number of works, the team [involved] and the expertise.”
In 2005 the museum lent paintings and sculptures to Berlin’s Neue Nationalgalerie exhibition “The Private Picasso” for a €700,000 fee, a museum spokeswoman confirmed.
The Musée Picasso has over 5,000 works, including 3,700 works on paper, in its collection. Closed for renovation since late 2009, it hopes to raise €23m towards the €45m refurbishment of its home, a 17th-century townhouse. The ministry of culture will provide €19m, which “leaves €3.5m, which I’m certain we’ ll find”, says Baldassari. The museum is due to reopen in spring 2013.
Baldassari’s comments follow the publication earlier this year of a report by the General Association of Curators of French Public Collections expressing concern about cuts in state funding for French museums. Over 1,000 curators signed the document that reportedly criticised the “extreme free-market logic” increasingly adopted by national museums, a barb aimed at the Musée Picasso.
“My aim is to find ways of reopening this museum to the biggest audience possible,” said Baldassari, adding: “Our exhibitions are not mercantile, cynical or without value.”
The director was recently at the centre of another furore when she refused to loan 12 works to the Kunsthaus Zürich for its 100th anniversary Picasso show, which closed in January. Baldassari said that some of these pieces were too fragile to travel.
She also added that there was a “loan freeze” implemented by the French government in 2009 for works that were not already on tour.
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