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The Hon Peter Garrett AM MP
Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts

Announcement of the Masterpieces from Paris exhibition

National Gallery of Australia
10 August 2009

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I would like to add my acknowledgement to the Traditional Owners, to custodians past and present.

It is a great pleasure to be here to officially announce one of the most extraordinary exhibitions ever to be held in Australia.

The exhibition comes from one of France's premier national institutions, the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, to one of ours, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; from one national capital to another.

MASTERPIECES FROM PARIS: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and beyond. Post-Impressionism from the Musée d'Orsay consists of 114 of the most famous Post-Impressionist works from the Musée d'Orsay, Paris.

This is an incredibly important exhibition, one the government is delighted is happening and having specifically visited the Musee D'Orsay recently to confirm our interest, I was thrilled to inspect a number of the works with Mr Thierry Gausseron, General Manager, and Mr Stephane Guegan, Curator of the Post-Impressionist exhibition, including some favourites I know will be of huge interest; stunning works by master painters such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Pierre Bonnard, Claude Monet, Maurice Denis, Paul Serusier, Edouard Vuillard and others.

As I saw, the Musée d'Orsay has the world's greatest collection of Post-Impressionism, and is often referred to as the cathedral of nineteenth century art.

The works in MASTERPIECES FROM PARIS are an integral part of France's cultural heritage and almost never leave the Musée d'Orsay, even singly, and never before in these numbers.

The exhibition is available only because the Musée d'Orsay is closing its Post-Impressionism display for renovations.

And as Post-Impressionism is not especially well represented in Australian collections, this makes the exhibition all the more valuable for Australia.

The Australian Government is delighted to be able to partner with the Gallery to bring this exhibition to Australia through its Art Indemnity Australia program.

This program indemnifies major exhibitions of significant cultural material and has enabled over 22 million visitors to enjoy some 104 exhibitions since it was established in 1979.

MASTERPIECES FROM PARIS will be the largest ever exhibition indemnified by the Australian Government through this program.

As befits the stature of the exhibition, a full public program of activities and events will add to visitors' understanding of this tremendous period in art history with the Gallery expecting that there will be more than 250,000 visitors to the exhibition including 20,000 school children.

I would like to thank the Musée d'Orsay, and particularly Director Monsieur Guy Cogeval, for lending the works and warmly commend the Chair of the Council of the National Gallery of Australia, Rupert Myer, and his board members, as well as director Ron Radford, for their efforts in securing this land mark exhibition.

This reflects the international esteem in which our national gallery is held and the high reputation the gallery and its staff have to be entrusted with an exhibition of this stature.

It is with very great pleasure that I announce that the National Gallery of Australia's summer blockbuster exhibition will be MASTERPIECES FROM PARIS: Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and beyond. Post-Impressionism from the Musée d'Orsay.

[ENDS]

Commonwealth of Australia