Louvre Museum in Paris to be moved to Tacoma

The world’s most famous museum – the Louvre in Paris – will be moved to Tacoma as part of a deal between the Bush administration and the government of France, it was announced today.

The ambitious plan calls for the removal of the many priceless works of art before the building is dismantled, loaded onto a fleet of U.S. military cargo aircraft (along with the art), flown to Tacoma and reassembled at a location yet to be determined.

Details were sketchy at press time, but at a hastily convened news conference in Washington, D.C. this morning, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said France agreed to “surrender” – eliciting a hearty chuckle from the assembled press corps – one of its most famous buildings as a way of improving relations with the U.S.

The relationship between the two countries has been strained recently over France’s opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

In exchange for giving up the museum, Fleischer said the Bush administration agreed to do what it could to cut down on the number of France jokes circulating throughout the nation.

“Even as I speak to you here now, the president is placing calls to Jay Leno and David Letterman, among others, and asking them to tone down their comments on France as a nation that remains incredibly arrogant, despite a history of military capitulation second to none,” Fleischer said. “It’s important to note this is a request from the president. The president will not be telling our nation’s late night comedians what they can or cannot say, as that would be a violation of the First Amendment.”

Tacoma officials were ecstatic at at the international deal that will bring some Old World culture to “America’s #1 Wired City.”

“Are we on a croissant or what in Tacoma?” asked an excited Mayor Bill Baarsma, slightly modifying a well-known catchphrase he has used at the opening and groundbreaking of many other museums in the city.

Tacoma is home to the Museum of Glass, a new Tacoma Art Museum that will open next month, as well as the Harold E. LeMay Museum and Pioneer Motorcycle Museum, both of which are under construction.

“We’re glad to add a museum to Tacoma that won’t be filled with cars or motorcycles, but rather the most precious works of art from all over the world,” Baarsma said. “This is truly a boon to the renaissance of Tacoma.”

“We don’t have to give the Statue of Liberty back to keep the Louvre, do we?” Baarsma jokingly asked, demonstrating just how hard it will be to refrain from taking humorous jabs at a nation that worships Jerry Lewis as a genius.

Baarsma’s minor faux pas aside, Bush administration officials could not offer a specific timeline on what they’ve dubbed “Operation Move the Louvre,” but said it would be at least several years before the museum could be taken apart, moved to America and put back together again.

Still, Tacoma officials were upbeat, saying they would keep busy making plans for the museum’s eventual arrival.

With all the construction going on in Tacoma, City Manager Ray Corpuz said it will be a challenge to find a place to put the most well-known museum in the world.

Officials are already looking into having internationally famous glass artist Dale Chihuly design some new pieces, Corpuz said, to “punch up the Louvre a bit.”

Aside from the logistical problems and city-level challenges that accompany such a massive undertaking, Baarsma foresees a positive economic impact of the Louvre making its new home in Tacoma.

“The reconstruction of the Louvre will mean more local jobs,” he said.

From fortress to highfalutin museum, the Louvre has a long and storied history. Here’s the Cliffs Notes version:

Early 12th century: A French king commissions the first building of what would eventually become the Louvre. It originally serves as a fortress to protect Paris while the king was on a crusade – probably getting beat if French military history is any indication – in the Holy Land.

16th and 17th century: The fortress is mostly destroyed. In grand French tradition, it’s replaced by a comfortable and elegant palace which serves as the residence for the nation’s ornately-dressed, wig-wearing monarchs. Each reigning king adds a palace.

1789: The building serves as a palace until the French Revolution. After the revolution, which the French win only because they are fighting other French people, the Louvre becomes the great museum it is today.

1980s: Workers add super-cool pyramids to the palace. (See photo.)

2003: France agrees to give up…the Louvre, that is, in an attempt to improve relations with the United States. “Operation Move the Louvre” will bring the museum to Tacoma!

Editor’s Note: Please keep in mind that today is APRIL FOOLS’ Day.