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In Which A Jet Full Of Priceless Picassos Arrives In Louisville

This December the KMAC Museum is opening a special exhibition featuring the works of Pablo Picasso.

More than 50 pieces from the Spanish artist will be on display from December 14 through March 22. Executive Director Aldy Milliken said many of the works have never before left Europe.

“These are incredibly personal artworks,” Milliken said. “A lot of these are studies that Picasso used for larger works so they’re simple graphic drawings, there are paintings on paper.”

I tagged along with Millken and his team as they retrieved the artwork from UPS Airlines last Friday.

Milliken said his friend and fellow museum director, Jean-Louis Andral, first suggested last year that Picasso’s works should visit the city named after King Louis XVI of France.

Milliken spent the last year negotiating the terms, fundraising and finding transportation. After reaching out to another friend, a pilot for UPS, Milliken developed a partnership with the company who is now sponsoring the show.

"So for us to contextualize the museum and basically the most influential artist of the 20th century in our city, is incredible, it's profound actually," Milliken said.

Last week the works traveled from their home in Antibes, France, to Cologne, Germany, before boarding a UPS 747 and making their way to Louisville, Kentucky. Even the French cultural ministry had to sign off on the exhibition, he said.

On Friday night, Milliken and his team escorted the pieces from the airport to an undisclosed location, where they will be stored until the exhibition begins. You can listen to the journey in the player above.

"Picasso: From Antibes To Louisville" will be on display at the KMAC Museum (715 West Main Street, Louisville) from December 14, 2019 to March 22, 2020.

This story has been updated. 


Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.