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National museum, Louis Vuitton reject criticisms of design exhibition

06-01-2011 08:42 BJT

Accusations of excess commercialization hit the National Museum of China on Tuesday for its decision to invite Louis Vuitton to co-organize its first design exhibition since four years' renovation was completed at the Tiananmen Square fixture.

A visitor touches a screen near two women carrying branded bags as they visit the luxury brand Louis
Vuitton's voyages exhibition held at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China, Tuesday,May
31, 2011.

Everything about the exhibition looks like a fancy luxury commercial, inappropriate for a national museum, anonymous guests to the museum's press conference on Monday told the Beijing News.

The Louis Vuitton, Voyages exhibition will run until August 30, marking the brand's 20th anniversary of arriving on the Chinese mainland, according to the museum's official website.

A visitor at luxury brand louis vuitton's voyages exhibition takes a picture near a multimedia
display at the National Museum of China in Beijing, China, Tuesday, May 31, 2011.

Trademark Louis Vuitton suitcases and handbags are on show in four exhibition halls.

"Of course a 4,000-square-meter exhibition costs money, but this is not an important factor," said Yves Carcelle, president and CEO of Louis Vuitton Malletier at the press conference.

"What's important is what you are going to discover. I think before money, there's history: 157 years of creativity and craftsmanship."

The exhibition represented the perfect partnership between the national museum's fresh new identity and "LV's history and creativity," believed museum vice director Chen Lüsheng.

Peking University professor Xia Xueluan seemed to dislike the whole idea.

"After all," he told the Global Times on Tuesday, "it's a well-known commercial brand and hosting such an exhibition is harmful to a State-level public museum that should in fact only be dedicating itself to non-profit cultural promotion."

A little "museum marketing" was good for the stuffy state sector, said Liu Zheng, a member of the China Cultural Relics Association.

"Proper commercial campaigns could do a lot of good for cultural publicity in our museums," Liu told the Global Times on Tuesday, "and are permitted by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage as long as the profits are spent on preservation work for cultural relics."

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