Met Cancels Plans to Send Poiret to Russia

Image courtesy of The Met

On the heels of the massively successful Alexander McQueen exhibit, The Met is having a little trouble with another of its costume shows: “Paul Poiret – King of Fashion” (which I saw ages ago and LOVED). For years, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has had a tradition of mutual loans with Russia’s Kremlin Museum. But a conflict between the Kremlin and a rad Brooklyn-based Jewish sect, Chabad, has resulted in an art embargo between both countries. And this means that the 35 Poiret works in The Met’s collection slated to appear in Russia on September 6th are staying home.

You see, over the course of two centuries, Chabad leaders amassed a large collection of works and religious documents only to have the archive looted by Nazis during WWII (where is Indiana Jones when you need him!?). The collection was eventually appropriated by the Russians and last July, a U.S. court ruled that the materials should be returned to Chabad.

But the Russians don’t want to.

And now they’re refusing to lend works to the U.S. because they think that we’ll resort to the entirely unethical practice of seizing their art as leverage to get back the Chabad archive (even though museum and government officials have assured them that we won’t). So in response, U.S. museums have instituted their own embargo against Russia.

From NYT Artsbeat:

“Everyone here is saddened” that the long tradition of mutual loans has been affected, Mr. Holzer [The Met’s Spokesperson] said, adding that “as a gesture of goodwill and friendship,” the Met would be sending something to the Moscow museum: namely, some of the scenic backdrops from its own Poiret exhibition, in 2007. “We feel we can’t send over the actual art,” he said, but “we’re sending over the backdrop material.”

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