French Statue of Liberty Moves to Museum
A restored French Statue of Liberty will be unveiled at a Paris museum Monday in what is the bronze sculpture's first change of address in over a century.
The French Senate voted to relocate the mini-me version of the larger U.S. sculpture from the Luxembourg Gardens after the Orsay museum of 19th century art lobbied for decades to inherit the piece symbolizing Franco-American friendship.
Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi created the 2.85-meter (9.35 feet) "Liberty Enlightening the World" bronze in 1889, three years after installing its larger twin in New York as a belated gift for the centennial of American independence.
The bronze was cast from a plaster prototype of the original statue in honor of the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution.
After the French state acquired the piece for a modest fee in 1900, it sat in the Luxembourg museum until 1906, when Bartholdi's widow asked that it be moved to the Senate gardens.
The Orsay museum, which since its 1986 founding has inherited works from the Luxembourg museum, struggled for decades to acquire the statue for its collection.
But for over 25 years, the Senate turned a deaf ear. It was only after the statue's torch was stolen and the September 2011 Senate elections shifted power to the left that the museum secured the statue.
The statue acquired a new torch ahead of its Monday evening unveiling. It was also restored and polished back to its original shine after suffering a century of wear and tear.
The American Friends of Musee d'Orsay Association (AFMO) funded the renovation. The Senate paid for a copy to be made to replace it in the Luxembourg gardens.
Bartholdi took years to build the larger U.S. Statue of Liberty -- now a New York City icon -- and failed to finish it in time for the 1876 centennial of American independence.
He finally inaugurated the statue, whose metal base was built by Gustave Eiffel, in 1886.