OFFICIALS at the Musée d'Orsay have been accused of discrimination after a poor family were escorted out of the museum by security – following complaints that they smelled bad.
A couple and their 12-year-old son had been visiting the Paris museum with a volunteer from aid group ATD-Quart Monde as part of a social outing when they were warned that people had complained about their smell.
They had visited several rooms and had a meal in the restaurant before being approached in a room dedicated to Van Gogh. Their ATD-Quart Monde helper refused requests for them to leave, saying they were properly dressed and were doing no harm.
After they moved to less-busy art nouveau rooms they were approached by four guards who escorted them to the door, where they were refunded their entrance fee.
Museum official Angelina Infanti, in charge of its project to introduce the gallery to a wider range of the public, told Le Figaro that it had “invested a lot over the past four years in our welfare programme” and worked directly with groups for the needy to organise more than 140 group visits a year.
The Culture Ministry has asked for information on the “unfortunate” incident.
ATD-Quart Monde spokeswoman Typhaine Cornacchiari said the visitors had been told that their “smell bothered others” and it showed the “discrimination” that “poor people suffer every day”. She said the museum needed to improve its welcome for poorer people.
Musée d'Orsay, dist.RMN-Grand Palais - Patrice Schmidt