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Au revoir to Masterpieces from Paris, the Most Successful Exhibition in Australian History
Paul Cézanne, "Bathers", c. 1890. Musée d'Orsay, Paris. ©RMN (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski.

CANBERRA.- The National Gallery of Australia exhibition Masterpieces from Paris, showcasing 112 Post-Impressionist works from the Musée d’Orsay, closed today with over 476,000 visitors, easily breaking the attendance record for any exhibition in Australia. After over four months on show, including an extended season in response to overwhelming demand, the exhibition closed today after staying open for 32 hours straight.

Arts Minister, The Hon Peter Garrett AM, MP said, "This stunning, record-breaking exhibition gave Australians a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay in our own National Gallery of Australia and almost half a million Australians took advantage of this opportunity.

"The exhibition attracted people to Canberra from all across Australia as well as overseas, injecting an estimated $94 million into the ACT economy.

“It is also particularly pleasing that over 38,000 school children—almost double the National Gallery of Australia’s target—were able to visit this exhibition and see some of the world's great art works, which they might otherwise only ever see in their textbooks. It has provided them with a truly unique opportunity to learn about the beginning of modern art."

On behalf of the Australian Government Mr. Garrett thanked the French Government and the French Embassy in Australia for sharing this unique exhibition with Australian audiences.

Ron Radford AM, Director of the National Gallery of Australia said, “Never before have there been so many masterpieces on show in one exhibition in Australia. This was truly an extraordinary exhibition which has attracted an extraordinary response from Australians everywhere. Over 80% of visitors have travelled to Canberra from every state and territory, to see this revolutionary period in the history of art.

“The overwhelming success of this exhibition really shows that Australia is one of the biggest art-going nations in the world. We would like to thank our principal partners the Musée d’Orsay, Art Indemnity Australia and particularly the ACT Government through ACT Tourism who have generously contributed towards the national marketing campaign,” said Ron Radford.

Andrew Barr MLA, ACT Minister for Tourism said, “Masterpieces from Paris has had an unprecedented economic contribution of just over $94 million to the ACT. The business and tourism industries, including hotels, restaurants, taxis, tourism operators and other national institutions, as well as the Canberra community, have all benefited from this landmark exhibition.”

The National Gallery of Australia continued its new approach to engaging children with art, the Family Activity Room within the exhibition proved to be a big success. Over 60,000 people visited the Family Activity Room, and children participated in a range of activities, from drawing self-portraits and sketching still-lifes to making origami stars.

Over 5000 visitors were able to enrich their viewing experience through a wide range of public programs, from art workshops, film screenings, guest lectures, music performances to in-depth Post-Impressionism masterclasses with prominent art historians, and special access tours. The catalogue for this exhibition, jointly written by curators at the National Gallery of Australia and the Musèe d’Orsay, sold nearly 60,000 copies.

The National Gallery of Australia has introduced many initiatives to provide unique ways to experience the works of art. Starry Nights, co-presented with ACT Tourism, featured some of Australia’s top musicians, art talks and late-night viewings. Early morning premium viewings with limited numbers allowed visitors to see the exhibition without the crowds. The National Gallery also implemented timed ticket entry for the extended season, a first for any gallery in Australia, which vastly reduced waiting times for visitors.

The National Gallery of Australia | Peter Garrett | Ron Radford |

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