The exhibit showing pieces from the Louvre has drawn an average of about 2,000 visitors per day since it opened in October, making it one of the most popular in the High's history, museum officials announced Monday. Membership to the Atlanta museum also grew 17 percent to more than 49,000 families since the opening.
"Through our collaboration with the Louvre, we are providing our visitors with access to great art, and our exhibition research has revealed remarkable new discoveries that will present these works in a new light for both American and European audiences," High director Michael Shapiro said.
High spokeswoman Cassandra Champion said that nearly one in five of the exhibit's visitors have been school children.
The High and the Louvre inaugurated their three-year partnership on Oct. 14 with the exhibitions "Kings as Collectors," featuring paintings and sculptures collected by French kings in the 17th and 18th centuries; "The King's Drawings," many of the works shown for the first time; and "Faces of History and Myth: Busts From the Musee du Louvre."
One of the showstoppers was the Raphael's "Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione," the 1515 painting known as "the male Mona Lisa." The portrait will return to Paris on Sunday, to be substituted by Nicholas Poussin's 1638-40 "Et in Arcadia Ego," which goes on view Jan. 30.
Poussin's poised, serene masterpieces are considered one of the cornerstones of French classicism. For ancient poets, Arcadia was an earthly paradise, but even here, as proclaimed by the somber inscription the portrayed shepherds are reading on a tombstone, death existed.
The drawings exhibit, which also heads back to Paris on Sunday, will be replaced in March by "Decorative Arts of the Kings," which showcases luxury items tapestry, ceramics, silver made for the French court.
Those, as well as the rest of the paintings and busts, remain on view until Sept. 2. Then, another cycle of exhibits will open, focusing on the Louvre's ancient art and archaeology collection with antiquities from Egypt, the Middle East, Greece and the Roman empire, reports AP.
The partnership, heralded as a new kind of collaboration that goes well beyond the occasional hosting of masterpieces, started with an exchange of high school students between Atlanta and Paris in early 2006 and will continue with yearly exhibits at the High Museum through 2009.