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French President boasts cultural talent of France at Picasso museum reopening

French President Francois Hollande, chief curator Anne Baldassari and director Laurent Le Bon look at creations by Pablo Picasso , in Paris October 25, 2014
French President Francois Hollande, chief curator Anne Baldassari and director Laurent Le Bon look at creations by Pablo Picasso , in Paris October 25, 2014 REUTERS/Jacques Brinon/Pool
2 min

The Picasso Museum in Paris reopened on Saturday after a five-year closure for a costly renovation with François Hollande urging crisis-hit France to draw inspiration from the Spanish painter. The museum, situated in a 17th-century mansion in the Marais district, houses one of the world's largest collections of Pablo Picasso's work. 

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French President Francois Hollande said at the inauguration ceremony on Saturday the museum was "one of the most beautiful in the world and one of the most moving because it brings together the considerable and prolific work of the best-known artist of the 20th century".

The ceremony, though, did little to hide the rancour surrounding the project, which featured the sacking of its director, a blast of criticism from the artist's son, lengthy delays and a huge budget overrun.

But for Hollande, it provided a good opportunity to dig up nostalgia about the country's illustrious past and focus attention on its cultural achievements and less on its failing economy.

"The talent of a nation can be measured by the importance it accords its artists," he said at the ceremony.

Spanish-born Picasso spent most of his life in France and the majority of his exhibits were left to the French state upon his death in 1973.

The museum, which first opened in 1985, boasts one of the world's most extensive collections of Picasso's work with 5,000 paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics, photographs and documents.

Housed in a 17th-century mansion in Paris's trendy Marais quarter -- it has been extensively modernised and enlarged to more than twice its previous size.

The museum is expected to hold one major exhibition per year, entrance for this weekend is entirely free.
 

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