Thu, 08 Jun 2023

The Pompidou Centre in Paris has signed a deal to help create a modern art museum - dedicated to Arab artists - in an ancient desert city in Saudi Arabia.

The new museum will be based at AlUla, home to ancient tombs and monuments in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, with an opening planned for 2027 or 2028.

The partnership was signed on 12 March by Pompidou president Laurent Le Bon and Nora Aldabal, the artistic director of the Royal Commission for AlUla, in the presence of Saudi and French culture ministers.

The Pompidou will provide "scientific and technical expertise in training staff, particularly in conservation, collection management and mediation", it said.

It may also provide support for "cultural and event programming".

Financial details still to come

The Pompidou will partner with the Royal Commission for AlUla, and they have three months to finalise financial details.

In 2019 Le Bon, then head of the Picasso Museum, was part of a French delegation to the kingdom alongside the culture minister at the time, Franck Riester.

Their visit was controversial, coming just a year after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Turkish embassy.

Riyadh has radically eased social restrictions under de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, though critics say it is a bid to ensure his continued authoritarian rule and distract from human rights abuses.

Paris's Pompidou Centre to get an American outpost near New York Pompidou Centre in Paris, "Notre-Dame of the Pipes", to close for 4-year refit

The Pompidou also told French news agency AFP it may open a branch in South Korea in 2025, with more details due soon.

The museum has plans to open its first North American outpost next year in a renovated industrial building in Jersey City outside New York.

Meanwhile the original Pompidou, which first opened in central Paris in 1977, will close for four years from the end of 2023 for major renovation work.

(with AFP)

Originally published on RFI

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