Pompidou in Berlin, the Louvre in Trouble, and More

BEAUBOURG ON THE SPREE? Berliners could soon be visiting their own Centre Georges Pompidou. President Jean-Jacques Aillagon has announced plans to open a branch of the Parisian center in one of the pavilions at the Charlottenburg palace in Berlin. Staatliche Museen Berlin, the city’s museum oversight office, however, has yet to comment publicly or make a financial commitment. It's currently still seeking ways to pay for the ongoing renovation of the Museumsinsel (the island in central Berlin where several important museums are located). The future Centre Pompidou Berlin, if indeed it ever opens, would not be the first foreign museum to seek visibility in the German capital. The Deutsche Guggenheim opened to great success in 1997; the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York is linked with the Kunst-Werke; and New York’s MoMA will be showing selections from its formidable collection at the Neue Nationalgalerie from February to September 2004. Die Tagesspiegel's Bernhard Schulz reports on the new proposal and the growing trend of international museum alliances.

TROUBLES AT THE LOUVRE: While the Pompidou contemplates expansion, the Louvre appears to be struggling to maintain its daily activities on site. A scathing report recently documented major management problems at the Louvre, from long coffee breaks (up to three hours) to insufficient operations. Currently, one quarter of the exhibition halls are closed to the public on any given day. In an attempt to put the report in perspective, Louvre president Henri Loyrette claimed that many problems stem from the Ministère de la Culture, in particular, its financial and administrative hold on the museum through entities like the Réunion des Musées Nationaux (RMN). In the spirit of French decentralization, 45 percent of the Louvre's profits go directly to the RMN, which then redistributes the money to thirty-three smaller museums throughout the country. In an unprecedented move, the minister of culture, Catherine Tasca, published an open reply to Loyrette in Le Monde, criticizing what she deems his “strange offensive.” Le Monde—both following and fueling the debate—offers a complete dossier.

MORE FUR FLIES: Le Monde takes its own tack in the museum debate. The paper obtained an unpublished report by France’s inspector of finances, Guillaume Cerutti, on “the evolution of national museums and the acquisition politics for artworks.” Dating from November 2001, the report, which has not yet circulated outside the Ministry of Finance and the RMN, calls for major changes. Anticipating Loyrette's complaints about the RMN, Cerutti calls for large national museums such as the Louvre to become financially independent by keeping their profits as state funding is gradually decreased. In the area of acquisitions, Cerutti claims that the State's activities are insufficient and hopes to mobilize local communities, commercial enterprises, and individual patrons to stock the archives of the national museums. In their report, Le Monde's Jacques Follorou and Emmanuel de Roux fill in the details but failed to get a comment from either Cerutti or Tasca.

VENUS IN A DIRNEL DRESS: On a definitely more enticing note, Art Press editor Catherine Millet has started a reading tour in Germany for her bestseller, La vie sexuelle de Catherine M. Süddeutsche Zeitung's Oliver Fuchs was on hand for the author's first stop in Munich. Though Fuchs sees the book as so many film sequences, Millet countered the claim, declaring with Gaulic aplomb, “One shouldn't dramatize sex. There are more important qualities in a person than their sexuality. And one can share more intimate things with others than sex.” Millet also claimed the success of her book, which has sold over 400,000 copies to date in France and is being published in twenty-five countries, as evidence that one is not always punished for having a libertine sexual life. So why did she write the book? “Because it was missing.”