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Rocky Opening to the Musee d’Orsay Briefly Delays Checking Out Its Non-White Walls

It was a bit of a shaky restart for the recently rehabbed Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Planning to reopen on Thursday after a reconstruction effort to the 200-year old former train station that cost nearly $30 million and required a closure of two years, the museum was hit by staff protests, which pushed back its opening. The NY Times reports that the staff, most of whom were security guards, were angry over planned “broad government cutbacks that see retiring civil servants – including museum workers – not replaced by new hires” and decided to use the reopening as a publicity-heavy method of getting their message across. That temporary disruption eventually lifted on Friday, giving people a first look at the addition of more than 20,000 square feet, the newly hung Impressionist masterpieces, and most importantly: get a look at the color of those new walls. Perhaps one of the more talked about aspects of the rehab effort is the museum’s decision not to go with the standard all-white gallery walls. Saying that “white is the enemy of painting” given that it can reflect light too brightly and create a subtle aura that washes out the works of art, the museum decided to go with subdued shades of green, gray, etc. Thus far, no one seems particularly bent out of shape over the decision, but the Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones has stood up for white walls in one of his most recent columns, arguing that “there are lots of whites, good and bad” and that sometimes it’s just the best color for art to exist alongside.

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