Acquisition process

How are acquisitions made at the Musée d’Orsay?
Georges Morren
A l'Harmonie (Jardin public), 1891
Musée d'Orsay
Achat, 2019
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt
See the notice of the artwork

Since the late 1970s, even before its doors opened in 1986, the Musée d'Orsay developed an acquisition policy. This is how the museum enriches the collections in different areas every year.

Step 1: the "conservation-acquisitions" meeting, sitting in a subcommittee of the scientific council of the public establishment

Presentation by curators of acquisition proposals, in a conservation-acquisitions meeting sitting in a subcommittee of the scientific council, composed of the establishment's curators and its president. Every proposal for an acquisition presented at this meeting is submitted for approval by secret ballot.

Step 2: the meeting of the public establishment's acquisition committee

Presentation by curators of acquisition proposals to the Acquisitions Committee. It is composed of 12 voting members, some by right, others appointed by order of the Minister of Culture, and the curators of the establishment elected by their peers. 
After a vote cast by secret ballot, by a two-thirds majority of the votes of the members present or represented, the acquisition of a work is accepted provided that the value does not exceed amounts defined by the ministerial order of May 5, 2017 setting the value thresholds above which the National Museums Art Committee is consulted. 

The thresholds in effect are as follows: 

  • Pictures and paintings: €200,000
  • Sculptures: €200,000
  • Drawings, watercolors, gouaches and pastels: €100,000
  • Objets d’art: €100,000
  • Photographs, films and negatives: € 50,000

Additional step in the event that the thresholds are exceeded: the approval of the National Museums Art Committee

Any acquisition whose value exceeds the thresholds is subject to a final submission to the higher authority of the National Museums Art Committee.

This committee, chaired by a president who convenes the committee at least six times a year, comprises 21 members, by right or appointed by the Minister of Culture, who vote by secret ballot.

Once the motion has been approved by a majority, the objects are acquired after publication of the decision and the result of the vote.

Step 3: entering the collections

Once these approvals are gathered, an administrative decision is made by the president of the Establishment. This decision allows the Finance Department to process the payment when it concerns a purchase for consideration. 
When all the administrative documents (minutes of the meetings and administrative decision) are collected and the material characteristics of the work are described following the regulatory standards, it enters the national collections.

This step is completed with the inscription of the work on one of the museum's inventory registers (paintings, sculptures, graphic arts, photography, objets d’art, architectural and decorative art drawings, medals, as well as the register of documentary objects).