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November 2, 2010

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Staff pack up as exhibits head home

THE first job after the World Expo 2010 for many foreign pavilions is to remove the national treasures on display and prepare to send them home.

Denmark's Little Mermaid statue, France's seven priceless paintings, Luxembourg's national treasure, the Gelle Fra (Golden Lady) statue, and Egypt's mask of Pharaoh Sheshonq II, were all star exhibits in their pavilions during the six-month Expo and were carefully packed up yesterday with the help of Shanghai Customs inspectors and -prepared for their journeys back home.

Danish Expo staff kissed the forehead of the Little Mermaid statue one after another in the Denmark Pavilion yesterday before it was packed into one of five wooden boxes - one for the bronze statue and the other four for the stones the mermaid sits on.

However, the schedule of the star exhibit's journey remain secret, the same as when it was flown to Shanghai in April for the Expo. It was the first time the statue has left Copenhagen Harbor where she has sat since 1913.

The pavilion's press officer said they hoped the mermaid could "leave quietly." A homecoming celebration will be held in Copenhagen when she arrives.

The statue helped the pavilion attract more than 5.55 million visitors over the past six months, equal to the country's population.

The France Pavilion yesterday finished the packing of seven paintings and the Rodin sculpture "The Age of Bronze" from the Musee d'Orsay in Paris.

The exhibits which have a total value of over 500 million euros (US$694 million) will take five separate flights to avoid any possibility of an accident which would destroy all the priceless artworks.

"The paintings and sculpture are as perfect now as when they arrived in Shanghai in April," said Franck Serrano, director of the pavilion.

All of them will arrive in Paris around Thursday. They will be exhibited in the Musee d'Orsay again, after being kept in the boxes for two days to let the exhibits become accustomed to the temperature in the museum, Francoise Heilbrun, chief curator of the museum, told Shanghai Daily.

"We had achieved our -original target of letting -people around world, especially Chinese people, see works of the purest art of France," said Serrano.

He said the pavilion has attracted over 10 million visitors during the Expo.

One of Luxembourg's most prized national treasures, the Golden Lady, which welcomed Expo visitors at the entrance of the Luxembourg Pavilion over the past six months, has also been packed away. It will fly back home tonight, said the press officer of the pavilion.

The golden mask of the Egyptian Pharaoh Sheshonq II, belonging to the 22nd dynasty, was sent to Shanghai Customs yesterday, but the schedule of its journey remains a secret.


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