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Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Louvre Crowdfunds a Relic’s Restoration - WSJ

The Louvre Crowdfunds a Relic's Restoration

An ancient Egyptian mausoleum is the latest crowdfunding campaign from the Paris museum

The Louvre has launched a crowdfunding campaign to restore and reconstruct the mastaba chapel of Akhethotep (detail shown). Photo: Musée du Louvre

The Louvre is once again giving the power to the people, launching a new crowdfunding campaign this week to raise the €500,000 ($555,000) it needs to restore and reconstruct an "exceptional" 50-ton ancient Egyptian mausoleum in its collection.

Since 2010, the Paris museum has use the fundraising tactic to both purchase objects such as the jeweled, 18th-century Teschen Table (€800,000) and restore pieces including the second-century Winged Victory of Samothrace (€1 million).

In recent years, the Louvre has increased its appeals to donors—both large corporations and individuals—as the state, which currently accounts for about 50% of its financing, has capped funding for large museums.

The 4,400-year-old mausoleum is one of the most important objects in the Louvre's Ancient Egypt collection, says Vincent Rondot, director of Egyptian Antiquities at the museum.

To address decades of wear and tear and new findings related to its original structure, the museum plans to remove the limestone bricks from the current structure so they can be cleaned and reassembled into a new, larger structure, adding missing pieces found in the museum's storage rooms.

The restoration campaign, launched Tuesday and running until the end of January, had drawn an estimated 240 donors by Wednesday, reaching 6% of the funding goal. In previous projects, donations averaged €150-€200.

The chapel is decorated with sculpted and painted frescoes, including a large portrait of Akhethotep. Photo: Musée du Louvre

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An Instagram post on the museum's account touting the effort with the tagline "Become a patron! Become an archaeologist..." had almost 20,000 likes.

Acquired by the Louvre in 1902-03, the mausoleum was part of a larger structure known as a mastaba built above the burial site of Egyptian nobleman Akhethotep in Saqqara, the necropolis for the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis.

The narrow chapel, now located in the museum's Sully wing, is decorated with sculpted and painted frescoes, including a large portrait of Akhethotep.

"Information about him is incomplete, but we know one of his sons married a daughter of the Pharaoh," Mr. Rondot says. The frescoes show peasants harvesting land and bringing food, suggesting Akhethotep was a high civil servant, close to the king.

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