Bulgarian Taxpayer Is Financing the Louvre

The contract does not provide for any deductions from the proceeds for Bulgarian museums. There is no insurance, but a State guarantee for the priceless exhibits.
Dimitar Stoyanov

Bivol obtained the confidential contract between the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture and the Louvre Museum for the exhibition “The Epic of the Thracian Kings – Archaeological Discoveries in Bulgaria”. It reveals that the Bulgarian State has assumed the most significant part of the costs of organizing the event. There are no provided deductions for Bulgarian museums and authors from the proceeds of the Louvre.

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According to the Network of European Museum Organizations (NEMO) at the Council of Europe, in addition to cultural and civilizational dimensions, the chartering of museum exhibitions also has a practical aspect, namely a financial one. This allows major European museum institutions with large tourist flow and thus turnover from ticket sales, advertisement, souvenirs and so on to share their “modest” proceeds with developing museums with small tourist turnover. In 2014, the Louvre Museum in Paris had 9 million visitors. More visitors pass through the halls of the world-renowned museum in one year than the entire population of the Republic of Bulgaria.
In light of the above, not only there was no such sharing of proceeds from the notorious exhibition of Thracian treasures in the Louvre, but it becomes clear that the Bulgarian side is financially disadvantaged.
The common practice in such international exhibitions is for the receiving major European museum to pay for the following costs:

– Insurance policy. Instead of insurance provided by the French side, the Bulgarian side issued a State guarantee amounting to 1 million levs. With these 1 million levs, the Bulgarian State will reimburse itself if the Thracian treasures are destroyed. Or rather the Bulgarian State, which owns the exhibit items, will reimburse itself at the expense of Bulgarian taxpayers.

– All costs for the conservation and restoration of objects provided for the exhibition; packaging, transport, insurance of exhibits, including during their transportation and their display before the public.

– The copyright for the preparation of the exhibit catalog, brochures and related materials. In the case of the Bulgarian exhibition in the Louvre, this was financially covered by the Bulgarian taxpayer.

Usually, the big European museums rent exhibitions from small developing museums by making deductions from the ticket price for these visiting exhibitions.

The contract, concluded by the Ministry of Culture, does not provide such an option. This means that the Louvre Museum retains all proceeds from tickets for the exhibition. Meanwhile, the seventeen Bulgarian museums that have provided objects for the exhibition in France are paid by the Bulgarian State. We do not know the amounts that have been paid to the Bulgarian museums, but we know they are borne by the Bulgarian taxpayer.

The situation with the catalog of the exhibition is also absurd. According to the contract, the Minister of Culture buys the copyrights of its Bulgarian authors and provides them free of charge to the French side. The circulation of the catalog remains unclear, but the contract clearly shows that the catalog will be sold by the French side for the price of 50 euro.

The conservation and the restoration works of the objects participating in the exhibition are organized in an outright cynical manner. A fund for donations for the exhibition at the Louvre Museum has been created, which will cover its financial obligations. The fund raises money from the territory of Bulgaria, Bulgarian natural and legal persons, among them “prominent local business people”. Thus, Bulgaria, the poorest EU country, is collecting donations not for its own cultural heritage, which is in dire condition, but to assist one of the richest museums in the world.

Against the backdrop of these absurdities, the revealed cost of 60 euro in daily allowances for ministerial representatives in Paris, “corresponding to the French standards” is a small detail, but since society has been dealing for a while now with the proverbial 35 euro daily allowance for Bulgarian singers, representing us in Paris, it is worth mentioning it.


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