New-look Musée d'Orsay is shut

Strikers walk out saying Paris museum has opened new exhibition space without taking on extra staff

25 October 2011

A STRIKE has closed the newly-refurbished Musée d'Orsay in Paris to visitors for the past week as workers protest against the opening of new gallery space without extra staff being employed to cope.

Workers walked out as the museum was opening to show off the 18-month, €20 million refurbishment that has cleaned up half of the 200 year old former rail station and created four storeys and 2,000sq.m. of new gallery space in the Pavillon Amont, the former engine-room.

The museum on the south bank of the Seine opposite the Tuileries Gardens and the Louvre has welcomed 60 million visitors since it opened 25 years ago.

The public areas were closed after 37 security and cashdesk staff walked out. The museum employs 600 but unions say many staff are on three-month temporary contracts and, while backing the action, cannot go on strike.

They say there are not enough staff to cope with the influx of visitors - and demand 20 extra staff to ensure the safety of visitors and the security of the artworks.

However, museum management say they have already organised to fill 13 vacant posts.

They added that the museum had lost €250,000 since the start of the dispute as visitors have not been able to see the new setting for works by Monet, Rodin, Dégas, Renoir, Van Gogh and Gauguin.

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