The refurbished 17th century mansion housing the collection
had been due to reopen in June, after a five-year, 52 million
euro ($72 million) refurbishment. But the Culture Ministry said
it would not now open until mid-September, missing the tourist
season's summer peak.
"I am outraged and deeply concerned," Claude Picasso, the
66-year-old son of the painter seen as one of the 20th century's
most influential artists, told Le Figaro newspaper.
"I get the impression that France couldn't give a damn about my
father or me," he said in the interview, published on Friday
just before the Culture Ministry confirmed in a statement its
decision to wait until September.
Inaugurated in 1985, the Picasso Museum includes nearly 300
paintings including "Self-portrait" from his early Blue period
through to "Matador" and others completed in the years before
his 1973 death. It also includes some 250 sculptures, relief
paintings and other works. [ID:nL6N0M134Z]
"What possible interest could the Culture Ministry have in
hindering the re-opening and functioning of one of the country's
most popular museums?" the ministry said.
"The Ministry appeals to everyone to put their own personal
interests to one side and share the enthusiasm and calm required
to complete this project," it added.
Addressing widespread incredulity in arts circles over previous
official explanations that the delay was partly needed to
recruit new guards, the statement also announced the creation of
40 new jobs "despite the tough budgetary climate".
The office of Prime Minister Manuel Valls could not immediately
be reached to confirm a Le Monde report that Valls would receive
Claude Picasso on Monday.
However the news daily noted that if anyone could calm the irate
Picasso heir down, then Valls - who himself is the son of a
Spanish painter who emigrated to France - could.
(Editing by Robin Pomeroy)
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