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Paris museum starts statue adoption scheme

Twenty-four statues at France’s botanical gardens the Jardin des Plantes are looking for benefactors to adopt them - and help to restore them.

The statues, made of bronze, marble and stone, have been degraded and oxidized by pollution and bad weather.

Most of them were commissioned by the state for the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, which has launched the adoption idea with the Fondation du Patrimoine, and depict famous botanists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, such as Buffon, Lamarck, Frémiet or Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Others are animals or mythical creatures, such as the Venus Genetrix.

Head of conservation for the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, Alice Lemaire, said: “We have a regular cleaning programme for the statues, but this global campaign will permit us to restore them to their original state, after which we’d only have to do regular maintenance work. We have started the restoration programme already but it cannot continue without support from the public.

“Our budget is not big enough to cover all of the urgent work that is needed. With the adoption programme we are planning to have all the statues restored within two years, but without public donations it will take much longer. The statues need restoring due to mostly natural causes such as pollution, corrosion and the colonisation of micro-organisms. But we must act now before the damage becomes irreversible.”

The total cost of the restoration is estimated to be €213,000, which the museum hopes to raise by the end of the first half of 2020.

Several levels of donations are possible. At a certain threshold, contributors will benefit from invitations to garden events, annual visitor passes and private visits. The company or individual who donates €10,000 to the programme will be entitled to their name on a plaque beneath a restored statue.

The Jardin des Plantes is one of the 12 locations that make up the Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle. It can be found in the 5th arrondissement of Paris, next to the Pierre and Marie Curie Sorbonne University campus.

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