RODIN MUSEUM FOIA

Since January 2017 I have been trying to access 3D scans of Rodin’s Thinker, which is a work in the public domain. My inquiries with the Baltimore Museum of Art about accessing their Thinker scan revealed careless access policies and unresponsive decision-makers there. That lead me to a confrontation with Musée Rodin in Paris over its self-serving copyfraud and the effortless way the museum harms the public by intimidating institutions around the world.

In late 2018 I sent a formal demand to the Rodin Museum for access to all its 3D scans, citing French freedom of information laws. When they refused to comply, I brought the matter before the French government.

In June of 2019 the French government agency that oversees FOIA matters announced its first-of-its-kind opinion, in my favor; 3D scans produced by French national museums are in fact administrative documents and are subject to public disclosure. Musée Rodin is required by law to give the public access to its 3D scans of Rodin’s works.

My effort to obtain the French FOIA agency’s opinion is recounted in this NextINpact story: Le scan 3D du Penseur de Rodin est un document administratif communicable (PDF in English)

My correspondence with The Baltimore Museum of Art and Musée Rodin, and the government’s opinion, are collected here: 20190911 Cosmo Wenman, Rodin’s Thinker 3D Scan Access Effort.

Despite the government’s opinion, Musée Rodin continues to ignore the law. To remedy this, in December 2019, I filed suit against the museum in the Administrative Tribunal of Paris. I’m asking the court to compel the museum to comply with the law, and to impose significant financial penalties for any delay. My court filing is here.

Musée Rodin is going to fight, but I expect to win. The outcome will affect every national museum in France, inform policies at institutions around the world, and have interesting effects on the art market.

I’m shooting for a victory for open access, and freedom and innovation in the arts.

Please contact me for original copies of any of the documents included above, or for related images to accompany any stories.

I will update this page as this project develops.

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