Encyclopaedia Britannica, Louvre to distribute art videos


CHICAGO -- The Louvre museum of Paris and Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. announced Tuesday that the Chicago-based company will distribute a new line of art videos in the United States and Canada, including an acclaimed, behind-the-scenes look at the world-famous French institution.

The target market for the videos, which carry retail prices of less than $40, are schools, colleges, public libraries, museum gift shops and videocassette recorder owners in search of a break from Grade B movies.

"This is a way to bring the museum experience home with you," said Joseph Elliott, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica Educational Corp., a Britannica subsidiary.

Though other museums and production companies, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Washington, D.C., are selling art videos and laser discs, experts say the market has room to grow, particularly in sophisticated urban areas such as New York and Chicago.

The videos, produced for the Louvre and translated into English by Britannica, were previewed at a press conference at the Alliance Francaise of Chicago.

They are:

* "City of the Louvre," a witty, 60-minute look at the inner workings of the celebrated museum and its staff. European broadcasters awarded the video, priced at $39.95, their best documentary prize of 1990.

* "Palettes," a series of 13 videos, each about 30 minutes long, that explain masterworks such as painter Georges Seurat's "A Sunday on la Grande Jatte," housed in the Art Institute of Chicago. The "Palettes" videos sell for $29.95.

* "Tales and Legends From the Louvre," a series of seven videos about 14 minutes long and aimed at young people. There is no retail price for these videos, which initially are being sold only to libraries and schools.

Britannica officials said the videos are being sold at museum stores and at retail outlets. Orders also are being taken by phone at (800) 554-9862.

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