New Delhi: The Louvre Museum in Paris, considered one of best and the biggest art repositories in the world, is looking to establish long-term partnerships with Indian art and culture.
"The museum has recently entered into an art partnership with the Forbidden City in China - a living monument and museum. It will like to open similar artistic exchanges with museums and private art houses; and set up art education projects in India," Louvre president Henri Loyrette said in an interaction in the capital.
The 59-year-old is on a reconnaissance tour of India for the first time in the last 10 years since he took over as the president of the Louvre in 2001. He was accompanied by Herve Barbaret, the general manager of the Louvre, and special adviser Benoit de Saint-Chamas.
Loyrette and his team visited Mumbai early this week and met union Culture Minister Kumari Selja in the capital Friday.
"All of us agreed that we should do something which is long-term -- like renovating some of the museums. I wanted to know what India exactly required," Loyrette said.
"Before the summer, you will see something happening between India and the Louvre," he said.
The Louvre has been drawing increasing number of Indian visitors every year -- mostly tourists and collectors, who have no idea of European art.
"Of the 8.8 million visitors this year, 65 per cent of the visitors were foreigners and the rest French," Loyrette said.
"Forty per cent of the visitors are below 26 years of age," he added.
The Louvre museum, the first museum in the world was founded in 1793 - as an archive for the masses - with a collection of artifacts which spans all countries in the Americas (North and South), Europe and Asia.
The museum is known for its iconic works like the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and the Victory of the Samothrace. It has one of the largest collections of European art till the 19th century and is a vibrant exhibition venue hosting 15-16 exhibitions annually at different spaces inside the museum and outside at public places.
"Over the years, the museum has been taking itself to the masses, working in prisons to allow inmates enjoy good art, and acting as a tool of cultural exchange in more than 70 countries worldwide," said the Louvre president.
"We are focusing on the emerging countries. In Abu Dhabi, we are helping the authority design a French style cultural centre. We are involved in projects in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Sudan, Brazil, Egypt and China. India with its rich history of art cannot be neglected," Loyrette told IANS.
In Sudan, the museum is supporting excavations, he added.
"The museum currently connects to India with a big collection of Mughal era miniatures and jewellery. It is a small part of a deep civilisiation - but significant," Loyrette said.
The museum has worked with contemporary Indian artists - Anish Kapoor and Subodh Gupta, who have sculpted installation and multi-media art works commissioned by Louvre, the president said.
This year, the embassy of France, the Louvre and the India Art Fair have launched an Indo-French collector`s exchange programme at the January 2012 India Art Fair. France will send three of top collectors to India during the summit on a familiarisation trip and to tour the museums and galleries. Three top collectors from India will go France in mid-2012 to prospect the European art market and acquaint themselves with European art.
"This will open up the market and make Indian art accessible abroad and vice-versa," founding director of India Art Fair Neha Kirpal said. Kirpal hosted the president of Louvre to a soiree Dec 3.
According to French ambassador Francois Richier, "The maiden visit of the Louvre museum to India is an important step towards furthering the dialogue between cultures and civilisations of India and France".