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Paris airport opens art museum for the jet set

AFP · 16 Jan 2013, 16:17

Published: 16 Jan 2013 16:17 GMT+01:00

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Meant as a "window" onto the capital's main museums, the exhibition space unveiled Tuesday at Charles de Gaulle international airport will allow passengers "to get to know Paris' rich cultural offering better," said Pascal Bourgue, marketing and services director at Aeroports de Paris.

Open between the first flight of the day and the last, and offering free entry to all passengers transiting through terminal 2E, the "Museum Space" as it has been dubbed is set to display original works, on loan from Parisian museums, he said.

Nestled between the waiting lounges and boutiques, the space designed by architects Willmotte Pere et Fils blends wood, glass and steel in its decor. The 250-square-metre (2,700 feet) area targets long-haul international passengers, many of them bound for Asia.

For its inaugural six-month exhibition, organisers reached out to the Rodin Museum which loaned some 50 works by the 19th-century sculptor, including "The Thinker" and "The Kiss".

The Rodin Museum's director Catherine Chevillot hailed the initiative as "unusual and original", and a way to "reach an audience which isn't necessarily familiar with museums."

After Rodin, the gallery is expected to host two six-month exhibitions a year, although it has not yet disclosed which museums are taking part. Francis Briest, president of the fund set up to finance the space, says the art institutions involved will get a chance to showcase their collections to a wider audience.

A similar museum exists within Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands, but it is dedicated solely to the country's national museum, the Rijksmuseum. American gallerist Larry Gagosian in October also opened an exhibition space at Le Bourget airport nearby, but that targets a more limited audience of private jet passengers.

With a record number of 61.6 million passengers having passed through the doors of Charles de Gaulle airport last year, the museum expects to host between 1,500 and 2,000 visitors a day.

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"On an average, passengers spend between one and a half to two hours in the airport. During that time, they're relaxed and open to this type of experience," Bourgue said.

"The goal is to make this area a real cultural space, with a vibrant and dynamic offering," Briest said.

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