A generous donor rejected her donation after determining the works’ conservation conditions to be unsatisfactory and in response to the city’s museums’ declaration that they would be closing for two days each week. To the Figaro, she explains it.
This Thursday, September 29, Marie-Claire Ballabio speaks firmly and angrily over the phone with the Figaro. “I wanted to donate my artwork to Strasbourg’s lovely Palais Rohan. However, the storage environment is no longer ideal. I am reportedly experiencing exceptionally high temps this summer. I told the municipal hall about it, and they mentioned the concept of inertia. The kind donor said, “The town hall does not listen to reason so I quit them. Museum closures are another reason: we know that people who work visit the museum between noon and two. There was deception, things were kept from me. I contribute works to be viewed, not to be held captive.”
She refutes the rumor that the bequest will ultimately be made to the city of Montpellier in Strasbourg, saying, “My legacy will surely go to another museum of my choice. I wrote a will in this regard. I know where it will go but I will not tell it.
The 79-year-old art enthusiast had her will erased on Monday as a result of making a first donation of collections of vintage paintings and sketches to Strasbourg museums in 2019, which is estimated to be worth five million euros.
The elderly woman, who has spent her entire life working in the insurance industry, intended to donate her Rambouillet property as well as her residence on the Atlantic coast to the Strasbourg museums.
What we feared has just occurred. We warned that taking these steps to restrict access to museums would deter potential patrons. What a disaster for our city!, says Bertrand Gillig, president of the Society of Friends of the Arts and Museums of Strasbourg.
The partisan and ideological confinement of the team of the mayor EELV does a lot of harm to the city of Strasbourg, according to Alain Fontanel, a former first deputy for finance and culture in Strasbourg and member of Renaissance. Pierre Jakubowicz, a member of 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 co-existed with the crisis at the European Press Cartoon Centre.
After serving as the city of Strasbourg’s mayor for 37 years, Roland Ries, 77, announced his resignation from politics on July 4, 2020. He stated on his Facebook page: “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.”
Locally, Mayor Jeanne Barseghian would only be supported by a group of people from the cultural milieu, who certainly criticize the closure of museums but close ranks around it. 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.
At the national level, the sentiment is unanimity; in Paris, Minister of Culture Rima Abdul-Malak was adamant on September 27 that the political decisions made in Strasbourg are an example of what not to do, particularly “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.”