This may come as a surprise when most of the culture is at a standstill, but temporary exhibitions continue to exist with frenzy in museums. Like nothing ever happened. Size problem, the public is uncertain, even impossible to find. The situation is so unprecedented that in the community they are called “ghost exhibitions”, a phrase that is both poetic and bitter.
Let us identify four scenarios: exhibitions stopped in their flight without being able to reopen; those which will reopen but without knowing when; those awaiting their inauguration; and then those which were on the wall but never opened.
The last case borders on a fiasco, for example the “Black and White” photo exhibition, scheduled at the Grand Palais in April 2020, postponed to November, then to December, and which ultimately will never open, the building due to close in March for works. This event had a shooting window, from July to October, four months during which the museums were full of visitors between two confinements. But part of the time was for another event, which ultimately did not take place. Result: chair rails assembled, dismantled, reassembled, dismantled; two hundred photos chosen and put on the wall for nothing, except that they will be filmed to feed the Internet site of the Grand Palais. There is the catalog, but it is 45 euros. We were also able to see photos in the metro.
Slow down or cancel?
The Parisian metro speaks of the scale of a phenomenon, as its walls are covered with posters promoting ghost exhibitions. Matisse at the Center Pompidou, “The Invention of Nature” at the Musée d’Orsay, Chanel at the Palais Galliera, Renaud at the Cité de la Musique, drawings at the Musée des arts décoratifs, and many more.
Suffice to say that the museums wanted to have a thunderous autumn as if they had not learned the lessons of a disaster spring. They nevertheless asked themselves the question: should we slow down the pace, cancel an event, freeze it for a year while waiting to see things clearly, or else hold on at all costs by betting on the decline of the pandemic?
Very few have imagined plans B. For example, the Musée de Grenoble has designed an exhibition drawn from its collections, easy to assemble, in case that of the painter Giorgio Morandi cannot be extended until June. More radical, the Picasso and Rodin museums in Paris presented nothing new in the fall of 2020 and will jointly open, when possible, the “Picasso-Rodin” exhibition, which will last until early 2022. – what to see coming.
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