museums can count on their “real” friends

It rocks in the societies of friends of museums. Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, they have lost an average of 20% to 25% of their members. However, the contribution of these benefactors is by no means marginal. In 2019, the Friends of the Center Pompidou gave 3 million euros for acquisitions, while the public subsidy capped at 1.8 million euros. The Friends of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris had put, the same year, 2 million on the table for the work of embellishment.

However, it is difficult to solicit these generous donors when, for eight months, the establishments were unable to offer them the usual compensation for their generosity: free visits, previews, private conferences or one-on-one with the curators … And of course a tax advantage: they benefit from a deduction on their income of 66% of the sums given.

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It is in difficult times, they say, that we recognize our “real” friends. Deputy CEO of the Friends of the Louvre society, Sébastien Fumaroli has done the count: the real “activists” – understand those who do not expect privileges in return – represent 50% of its membership, or around 30,000 to 35,000 members. In December 2020, the company created a new Circle of Patrons. This group has already raised 300,000 euros, primarily devoted to the “Treasures of Cairo” exhibition, scheduled for 2022.

In battle order

At the same time, the subscription launched by the Friends of Orsay et de l’Orangerie made it possible to collect the 200,000 euros necessary for the purchase of a Breton boy in profile by painter Roderic O’Conor. Some of the most active members of the National Museum of Modern Art have joined together to raise 200,000 euros for the benefit of the exhibition “They make abstraction”.

Despite the loss of a fifth of its members, the Friends of the Palace of Versailles society has a comfortable woolen stocking, supplied by bequests, donations and life insurance contracts, which allows it to honor its commitments, in particular for restorations. And its members continued to help the castle on an individual basis, mainly through direct donations of works, such as this set of thirteen works published between 1681 and 1810 for the Marie-Antoinette library.

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Today, these circles are in battle order to find their flock. Since the reopening of the castle, we are in the process of recovering them “, assures, optimist, Thierry Ortmans, president of the Friends of Versailles. To convince dropouts to resume their subscription, everyone is going with their own carrot. The Friends of the Louvre society, which lost 15,000 members, offered its members in 2020 a free additional card for a person of their choice. An offer that has enabled them to attract 10,000 potential new recruits, which must now be transformed into solid contributions. The association is also trying to recover the “young and family” public, which has fallen by 40%, by preparing a specific campaign for young workers for the start of the school year. As a welcome gift, new entrants will benefit from a first guided tour of the Louvre on the history of the palace and its collections.