The rebellion of museums is growing against a closure they do not feel they deserve. Petitions and concrete proposals have been placed on the desk of Minister Roselyne Bachelot for their rapid reopening – at least partially.
“For an hour, a day, a week or a month, let us half-open our doors, even if we had to close them in the event of new confinement! “ This is the plea made this week by a hundred directors and presidents of art centers, led by Emma Lavigne, from the Palais de Tokyo, in Paris.
The petitioners declare themselves ready to observe a reinforced sanitary protocol and an even smaller gauge. They are willing to open only part of their rooms, at certain restricted time slots. The French – and especially young people -, argue the signatories, have an urgent need to go rediscover works of art to resist the depression and to make this difficult period a “Cultural and learning winter”. They are based on reopening experiences, in Italy and Spain in particular.
Monday working meeting
Following this approach, which brings together foundations, art spaces, museums and regional contemporary art funds, the Minister of Culture agreed to meet with professionals in the sector on Monday during a working meeting.
Another initiative: the president of the ArtNova endowment fund, Frédéric Jousset, as well as the journalist Florence Belkacem on Friday sent ten proposals to the minister, which give easily achievable leads, according to them.
Like all cultural places, museums have been closed since the end of October. Hopes of a reopening in mid-December, then at the end of January, were dashed. Long-awaited and expensive exhibitions go without visitors and sometimes need to be repacked without being seen.
“Why are libraries, where we are in contact with books, galleries, where spaces are cramped, open, and not [les musées] ? “, asked Frédéric Jousset from Agence France-Presse. Mr. Jousset, also administrator at the Louvre, denounces “A blind spot”. Because, he observes, “Our sector does not have a sufficiently large economic weight”. “Museums are the big mute, and the hundreds of petitioners have come out of the woods to express what the silent majority thinks”. The museum is however “Least at risk” cultural actors, he believes, because visitors move there, and agents monitor the rooms. “Our museums are open, they are heated, the light is burning inside, the guards are already there! “
Museums are ready
Industry players agree that museums are ready to welcome the public overnight, that they just need to call back some of their staff. There are no rehearsals to organize, as is the case in theaters.
Several avenues are proposed to the Minister of Culture: reopening initially at weekends, when families have time, or conversely, as is the case in Italy, on weekdays. Either way, health protocols should be similar to those validated in libraries, places of worship and art galleries.
The reception of schoolchildren should be encouraged, and access to heritage places in areas with low circulation of the virus possible. Priority could be given to small and medium-sized museums. Frédéric Jousset knows that reopening museums “Risk of arousing jealousy” other cultural institutions (theaters, cinemas) – a factor that is certainly taken into account by the government.