- Title: ALGERIA: Algeria's first museum of modern art opens in the capital Algiers
- Date: 28th December 2007
- Summary: SLATE INFORMATION
- Embargoed: 12th January 2008 12:00
- Location: Algeria
- Country: Algeria
- Reuters ID: LVAACUCH4OCX4JYC8WX8H5DP3JV3
- Story Text: Algeria's first museum which is dedicated to modern and contemporary art opens in a renovated building in the capital Algiers with an exhibition by Algerian artist Malek Saleh featuring both sculptures and paintings.
Algeria's first Museum of Modern and contemporary art opened in the capital Algiers with a retrospective of work by acclaimed Algerian artist Malek Saleh.
The exhibition, entitled "Madjnoun Leila," or "Leila's Madman," featured both sculptures and paintings by Saleh and attracted a large number of visitors which included artists, intellectuals and government officials.
The museum, which has around 13,000 square metres of exhibition space over five levels, was converted by architect Halim Faidi from a disused shopping centre in central Algiers and was financed by the Algerian ministry of culture.
"It's the first important operation of restoration and of rehabilitation involving a museum, because there are some rooms which were restored and others which were rehabilitated. And it is the first time we introduced, in the city centre, building materials like stainless steel and armed glass. And It is the first time that the people can see so deeply into such a space and such an important cultural programme," said Faidi.
The original building was built in the Neo-Moroccan style in 1909 by French architect Henri Petit, who built a number of land-mark buildings around the Algerian capital.
Algeria's minister of culture Khalida Toumi said the new museum was important for Algeria as it would provide artists with a platform from which to display their work.
"I am a militant about the submission of politics to culture. So, in this way, I live my mission as someone who must do everything to give the means to the women and men of the arts to express and to realise [their art].
So, I am very happy and very proud," Toumi told Reuters.
Although the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art will feature work by non-Algerian artists, Toumi said the exhibition spaces would be primarily dedicated to showcasing work by Algerian artists.
"The museum of modern arts is a space dedicated first and foremost to the Algerian artists, and especially to modern and contemporary artists. It is also a space which can use by the foreign artists. It's a place to feature, to exhibit Algerian artists' creations, and it's also a place to share with the others artists," she said.
Construction work on the Museum took several years to complete and the Algerian Ministry of Culture and the museum's curators hope that the museum will become an internationally recognised centre of North African and Middle Eastern art.
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