H. de Roos - The critique of the toronto exhibition


Entrance Fees and Revenues From Posthumous Casting In Paris

 In comparison, the Musée Rodin seems to have a steady flow of visitors:

As a Public Administrative Establishment under the aegis of the Ministry of Culture, the Musée Rodin is endowed with a legal personality and is independent with regard to its income and expenditure. With an average of 500,000 visitors a year, it is one of the most popular museums in France, coming after the Louvre, Versailles and the Musée d’Orsay, but ahead of the Orangerie and the Picasso museum. This obviously reflects the renown and notoriety of Rodin’s work. It also reflects the special charm of the site and its grounds, the whole southern part of which was remodelled in 1993, but also of the building housing the Master’s works and collections.

[Jacques Vilain, on the Musée Rodin Website under www.musee-rodin.fr/Biron-e.htm]

With half a million visitors paying 5 Euro each, the Musée Rodin would generate ca. 2.5 Million Euro of exhibition revenues. If we deduct 20% for the visitors under 18 years of age, who enjoy free entrance, this leaves 2 Million Euro, is app. US $ 900.000.

In this light, the income from issuing posthumous bronze casts plays a vital role in financing the Paris Museum and sponsoring the moderate entrance prices. Apart from its art-historical content, the ventured critique certainly functions to defend this crucial source of income:

Toronto -- Kate Taylor's column on the controversial plasters and bronzes in the MacLaren collection (What A Messy Prelude To The Kiss -- Aug. 16) raised some interesting issues, but is incomplete without a consideration of the potential reason behind the Rodin Museum's aggressive attitude toward the Royal Ontario Museum. As the exclusive producer and vendor of posthumous bronze sculptures and anatomical fragments by the artist -- with up to $4-million (U.S.) a year in sales -- it may be that the museum has a vested interest in protecting its own version of the "Rodin" brand.

[From: The Rodin brand, by Stephen P. Sweeting, Toronto Globe 18 August 2001]

If this figure is correct, such sales revenues would have far more weight than exhibition revenues. Altogether, the Musée Rodin, with its vast and famous collection, located in highly attractive historical buildings in the City of Paris, has a much stronger financial backbone than the MacLaren Art Centre. In 1997, the Barrie Museum for the first time managed to attract ca. 100,000 yearly visitors, after 15 years of steady expansion and innovation:

I have found myself in an international controversy which is in part about territory and finance. (..) We are not a large museum but seemed to have earned the wrath of the Rodin institutional giant. Ironic.

[From: Letter from William Moore to the author, 23 Oct. 2001]

Though this suggests an unequal, heroic battle of David against Goliath, of visionary volunteers against French State burocracy, it should be acknowledged both institutions, starting from different material positions, pursue very similar strategies: to promote their collections as "unique", their exhibitions as "revealing", their intentions as "idealistic".




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