Strike Delays Opening of Prostitution Art Show at Musée d’Orsay

Those anxious to see the new show will have to wait.

Léopold Reutlinger, La Belle Otéro, from an album of photographs. Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.
Léopold Reutlinger, La Belle Otéro, from an album of photographs. Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.
Léopold Reutlinger, <em>La Belle Otéro</em>, from an album of photographs. Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

Léopold Reutlinger, La Belle Otéro, from an album of photographs. Photo: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris.

Parisian museumgoers anxious to see Musée d’Orsay‘s new exhibition featuring artistic depictions of the world’s oldest profession will have to wait. Due to a strike from workers protesting plans to keep the museum open seven days a week, the institution was forced to remain closed today.

The Musée d’Orsay announced the closure on Twitter. According to the New York Times, the museum is currently negotiating with strikers and does not know when it will reopen.

Splendor and Misery: Images of Prostitution 1850-1910,” which includes historical artifacts such as police records as well as paintings and photos, was set to open September 22. The museum claims that the exhibition, which takes its name from Honoré de Balzac’s novel The Splendors and Miseries of Courtesans, is the first major art show about Parisian prostitution.

Louis Valtat, Sur le Boulevard (La Parisienne). Photo: Mathieu Rabeau/RMN/ Fondation Bemberg.

Louis Valtat, Sur le Boulevard (La Parisienne).
Photo: Mathieu Rabeau/RMN/ Fondation Bemberg.

(The museum is no stranger to overtly sexual art, such as Gustave Courbet‘s L’Origine du monde [Origin of the World] and performance artist Deborah de Robertis’s real-life reenactment of the painting, staged in front of the canvas this past June, or the orgy-ridden trailer for its Marquis de Sade exhibition.)

The planned change to the museum’s opening hours, which was set to go into effect this fall, is part of French President François Hollande’s plan to more evenly distribute crowds at the country’s top three tourist attractions, which also include the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, by keeping all of them open every day. Under the new arrangement, select groups, mostly from schools, would be able to visit the Musée d’Orsay on Mondays.

Jean Béraud, L’Attente. Photo: Franck Raux/RMN-Musée d’Orsay.

Jean Béraud, L’Attente.
Photo: Franck Raux/RMN-Musée d’Orsay.

Union leaders have been open with their concerns about the scheduling changes. Musée d’Orsay staff currently devotes Mondays to maintenance and organizational work, and fears that remaining open every day will strain an already understaffed operation, according to an open letter to the minister of culture.

This past year, the Musée d’Orsay welcomed 3.5 million visitors, while 7 million and 9.2 million people came to Versailles and the Louvre, respectively, with the latter expecting 12 million by 2025.

The show is scheduled to be on view through January 17.

Related Stories:

Musée d’Orsay Curator Sylvie Patry on the Origins of the Modern Art Market

Musée d’Orsay’s “Dream Archive” Travels to Vienna


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