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Wed 10 Oct 2007 12:15 AM

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French MPs approve Abu Dhabi Louvre

UAE branch gets go-ahead despite opposition from experts who say institution will be cheapened by move.

The French parliament has approved plans to build a branch of the Louvre Museum in Abu Dhabi, despite opposition from art experts who say the institution will be cheapened by the move.

Abu Dhabi signed a 30 year licensing deal with the Louvre in March. The museum, to be located within the Cultural District of the Saadiyat Island development, will be the first to carry the Louvre name outside France and is expected to open in 2012. Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel it will cover 24,000 square feet and cost $109 million, paid for by the Abu Dhabi government.

Abu Dhabi will pay 400mn Euros ($525mn) for the use of the Louvre brand name and for the loan of artworks, according to AFP. Around 300 works of art will initially be shown.

Culture Minister Christine Albanel told the National Assembly yesterday “It is a really beautiful project, a project about the dialogue of cultures.” according to news.com.au. “It is a project about French cultural glory which brings considerable resources, which will not lead to a disengagement by the state.”

The deal was endorsed by the French Senate last month, despite a storm of criticism and a petition titled ‘The museums are not for sale’ signed by over 5000 art experts.

Former culture minister Catherine Tasca said the agreement marked a “worrisome turning point in our museums policy”. Jean Clair, a former director of the Picasso Museum in Paris said the move would “sound the death knell of the museum as we know it”.

Officials say there are no plans for the Mona Lisa to leave Paris.

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