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Ground-breaking Paris gallery closes as visitor numbers plummet

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Pinacothèque of Paris

A private art gallery which shook up the Paris museum scene with a series of major hit shows shut its doors Monday after a dramatic fall in visitor numbers. The Paris Pinacotheque said its takings had dropped by a quarter in two years.


It rocked the Paris art world with a string of blockbuster shows on Edvard Munch, Jackson Pollock, Man Ray and the Chinese terracotta warriors of Xian since it opened its doors in 2007.

The catastrophic drop in visitors after the November terror attacks in city that left 130 people dead was the final straw, its founder said.

Curator Marc Restellini, who had hugely expanded the gallery on the chic Place de la Madeleine in 2011, said the "large drop in attendance figures means we cannot continue in such costly premises".

But he said he hoped to reopen the Pinacotheque -- whose branch in Singapore is not affected by the closure -- "in the medium term in premises that are more financially sustainable".

Nearly half a million people flocked to see the Pinacotheque's show on the terracotta army in 2008, while an exhibition of 17th-century Dutch masters was seen by 700,000 people in four months,

The abrupt closure with a month still to run of a show of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's photographs took many by surprise, although several major Paris institutions have been badly hit since the attacks.

Something of a maverick, Restellini had been highly critical of way the established French galleries staged their shows, claiming they were too academic and elitist.

"Museums are too often the graveyards of works of art. I want to bring them to life," he is reported to have said.

He also claimed his publicly-funded rivals had attempted to block his Munch show, in which several works by the Norwegian painter of "The Scream" were shown for the first time.

Restellini, who made his name as an artistic director of Paris' small but prestigious Luxembourg museum, said he hoped to reopen two future pinacotheques in Paris, one for contemporary art and another dedicated to historical and cultural shows.

The Pinacotheque's permanent collection created by Restellini will be go on show either in Singapore or be put into storage, he said.