MIA to host Louvre collection

The Astronomer, Vermeer
The Astronomer, 1668, by Dutch painter Jan Vermeer. Oil on canvas. Housed at the Musee du Louvre, Paris.
Photo by Erich Lessing/Art Resource, NY

The Louvre's most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, is not coming to Minneapolis. But another work by Leonardo da Vinci will be on display, as well as a sketch by Michaelangelo, and a painting by the 17th century Dutch master Johannes Vermeer.

MIA director Kaywin Feldman says the exhibition is the result of a collaboration between the MIA, the Louvre, and the High Museum in Atlanta.

"Part of what convinced the director of the Louvre to work with Minneapolis was the incredible collection that we have, which he knew about, and the generosity of the MIA in lending out our masterpieces to museums in Europe," said Feldman. "And he felt it was time for Europe to return the favor to Minneapolis."

Feldman says the exhibition is a rare opportunity.

"The fact that Vermeer's Astronomer has never been to North America before, and will only be seen in Atlanta and Minneapolis, is really very exciting," said Feldman.

The exhibition will feature 62 works of art from the Louvre spanning 4,000 years.

In addition, there will be some fakes on display. The experts at the Louvre originally deemed them masterpieces when they first entered the museum's collection.

Feldman says part of the exhibition's goal is to challenge our notion of what is a real masterpiece. The show opens in October 2009.

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