A bequest of 5 million euros escapes Strasbourg museums due to municipal politics

After judging the conservation conditions of the works to be poor and in reaction to the announcement of the closure of the city’s museums two days a week, a generous donor renounced her donation. She explains it to the Figaro.

This Thursday, September 29, on the phone with the FigaroMarie-Claire Ballabio speaks in a firm and indignant voice. “I intended to give my works to the Palais Rohan in Strasbourg, a wonderful place. But the storage conditions are no longer optimal. This summer I have been reported to have very high temperatures. I shared it with the town hall, who spoke of a phenomenon of inertia. And the generous donor to assert: “The town hall does not listen to reason so I leave them. Museum closures are one more reason: we know that people who work go to the museum between noon and two. There was deception, things were hidden from me. I give works to be seen, not to be held hostage.”

In Strasbourg, rumor has it that the bequest will finally be offered to the city of Montpellier. She denies: “My inheritance will indeed go to another museum of my choice. I wrote a will in this direction, I know where it will go but I will not say it.

After having made a first donation of collections of old paintings and drawings to the museums of Strasbourg in 2019, estimated at five million euros, the 79-year-old art lover therefore had her will deleted on Monday. Alsatian capital. information revealed by The Art Tribune .

The septuagenarian, who has made a career in insurance, intended to sell her home on the Atlantic coast and land in Rambouillet to the museums of Strasbourg.

Bertrand Gillig, president of the Society of Friends of the Arts and Museums of Strasbourg is devastated: «CWhat we fear has just happened. We said that taking these measures to reduce access to museums would discourage potential patrons. What a disaster for our city!”

For Alain Fontanel, former first deputy for finance and culture in Strasbourg and elected Renaissance, “This is the second major cultural loss after the European Press Cartoon Centre. The partisan and ideological confinement of the team of the mayor EELV does a lot of harm to the city of Strasbourg”. Pierre Jakubowicz elected Horizon adds: “It shows us how Strasbourg stands out from other major French cities. At the Municipal Council, the mayor told us that the crisis concerned the whole of France. We should therefore have hundreds of museum closures, but there are only some here. Strasbourg is the only city to make culture its first budgetary adjustment variable.

As for former mayor Roland Ries, 77, who left politics on July 4, 2020 after 37 years of elected office in the city of Strasbourg, he wrote on his Facebook account: “I suppose that Mrs. Barseghian is aware of the bad situation in which she has strayed on her own, but instead of having the humility to recognize her error, she persists and signs by incriminating her predecessor, myself – who Obviously, has no responsibility in this decision which it took in its own right.“For his part Jean-Philippe Vetter, president of the LR group on the municipal council of Strasbourg and councilor of Alsace intends to submit an interpellation on the subject to the council of the Eurometropolis of Strasbourg, which meets this Friday. And show that the Alsatian capital “is becoming a national counter-example in terms of cultural policy”.

To look at the very stormy municipal council of Monday, September 27, the decision of the mayor EELV to close the museums from next October 3 and to reduce the subsidies of the major cultural institutions of the city to redistribute them to amateur practices and street performances do not pass. Locally, Mayor Jeanne Barseghian would only be supported by a group of people from the cultural milieu. The latter certainly criticize the closure of museums but close ranks around the mayor in the name of the greater climate emergency.

At the national level, the emotion is unanimous. In Paris, the Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak was very firm on Monday, September 27. For her, the political decisions taken in Strasbourg are an example of what not to do. And to insist: “Especially, when we wrap this solution in the virtue of energy sobriety, when in reality it is only a question of the difficulty of making choices in budgetary matters.” Jack Lang, eternal Minister of Culture, president of the Arab World Institute and part of whose family comes from Alsace also got involved with a tweet, followed by a press release. According to him, it is“a totally unjustified decision, unworthy of a major regional and European capital.» Before adding “We have to save money, but why start with museums? Let’s preserve knowledge, culture, education, what uplifts us and brings us joy.” For his part, after his statements to the Figaro (read our editions of Monday, September 27), Mayor Jeanne Barseghian again defended her action and refuted “any idea of ​​Strasbourg’s decline” in the columns of Latest News from Alsace (DNA), the major regional daily. In view of the reactions with serious consequences like that of Marie-Claire Ballabio, not sure that this is enough.

SEE ALSO – Exhibition: Antoni Gaudí re-enchants the Musée d’Orsay

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