Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Louvre and Abu Dhabi - politics and museums

This story has been floating around the Internet for a couple of weeks now, but this is the most comprehensive coverage I have seen of it. Basically, the decision by the Louvre to charge Abu Dhabi a hefty sum for the use of its name and some of its collections has created more than a bit of a stir. It is of general interest, but there is also a paragraph within this that refers to the attempts by Egypt and other countries to repatriate various artefacts (including the Dendera Zodiac), and looks at the significance of so-called "national" collections: "Much of the opposition to the proposed Abu Dhabi Lourve lament that the French public will be deprived of its heritage. Three out of eight of the departments that structure the Louvre collection contain art from the Middle East and North Africa and are categorized as such: 'Near Eastern Antiquities,' 'Egyptian Antiquities' and 'Islamic Art.' If this latest transaction with Abu Dhabi does in fact indicate a move to exploit France’s patrimony, then it must be acknowledged that the 'French culture' being disputed over is not purely French nor is it devoid of a ruthless colonial history. In theory then, according to French opinion, it is perfectly acceptable to exploit non-French peoples and cultures for economic gain, whereas everything French is somehow sacrosanct and must be guarded from the tentacles of globalization."

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