Apr 11 2016

Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris Folds Just Shy of One-Year Anniversary

by The Editors

Fort Canning Arts Centre, which was home to Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris. The latter shuttered its doors on April 11, 2016, citing low visitorship and financial setbacks. Courtesy Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris.

On April 11, less than a year after a much-hyped opening supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, Singapore Pinacothèque de Paris (SPP) permanently shuttered its doors. The 5,500-square-meter, three-story building was the first international outpost of the private French museum founded by Modigliani scholar Marc Restellini.

“We are disappointed that this project did not succeed due to weaker than expected visitorship and other business and financial challenges faced,” reads the official statement released on April 8 by Art Heritage Singapore, the local firm managing the museum. There was no comment from Restellini.

The announcement came as a surprise to Singapore’s arts scene and neighbors at Fort Canning Arts Centre, who had been wooed aggressively to join the endeavor when it opened in May 2015. Among the handful of restaurants and cafés scattered across the building’s levels, French restaurant Balzac Brasserie has announced that it will close following this news.

In April 2015, another of the city-state’s arts complexes—Gillman Barracks, a government-backed complex of 14 buildings home to 17 galleries and a few restaurants—also suffered an exodus of tenants amid claims of inadequate foot traffic.

Set within an expansive park in the city center not far from the National Archives, SPP relied on its permanent collection—ranging from paintings by 20th-century European painters, including Amedeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi and Pablo Picasso, to objects of Southeast Asian tribal art—and “blockbuster” temporary exhibitions to attract crowds, but the approach did not always succeed.

SPP’s inaugural show, “Myth of Cleopatra,” featured more than 200 works and artifacts related to the ancient Egyptian queen, but failed to generate sufficient visitors. Now, SPP is suing Italian exhibition producer Arthemisia Group, who co-organized the show, for alleged poor performance and subsequent low attendance. Arthemisia is, in turn, filing its own charges against SPP, seeking damages to the tune of USD 500,000.

This financial scuffle comes just weeks after the February closure of Restellini’s original nine-year-old Pinacothèque de Paris, also due to financial calamities that include unpaid loans. In an online interview with the French newspaper La Croix, Restellini attributed the Paris closure to rising rents and a steep decline in visitor numbers, down 25 percent within the past two years.