A five-year agreement between the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and France's famed Musee du Louvre could bring priceless works of art to the Bay Area.
Museum officials said the pact will allow for an exchange of antiquities, paintings, sculptures and other objects between the institutions. The Fine Arts Museums operate the Palace of the Legion of Honor and de Young Museum in San Francisco.
"The accord will not only bring forth new scholarship through the collaboration of our colleagues, but it will also give our visitors the opportunity to see great works of art from both museums in ways that would otherwise not be possible," said Richard Benefield, Fine Arts Museums' deputy director, in a statement.
The agreement includes exhibitions, art conservation projects and public education programs.
Specific works of art to be loaned have not been identified. The Louvre's holdings include Western masterpieces such as "Winged Victory of Samothrace," the "Venus de Milo" and Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting, the "Mona Lisa."
The Legion of Honor on Saturday will open an exhibition organized by the Louvre. "Royal Treasures from the Louvre: Louis XIV to Marie-Antoinette," which features decorative arts once owned by French royalty. Museum officials say the exhibit and partnership is the result of discussions begun nearly two years ago between Henri Loyrette, director of the Louvre and late Fine Arts Musems director John Buchanan.
The de Young and Legion of Honor have in recent years showcased other famous works of art loaned by European museums.
In 2011, the de Young hosted more than 100 paintings, sculptures and other objects by artist Pablo Picasso from the Musee National Picasso in Paris.
In January, the de Young will display painter Johannes Vermeer's famous "Girl with the Pearl Earring," in a display of Dutch Golden Age paintings on loan from Holland's Mauritshuis museum in The Hague. The painting was last exhibited in the United States in 1995 at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
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