Art Is More

Living without art is like living without a soul

Opening of the Louvre-Lens, the new Louvre decentrelized museum.

Our French President, François Hollande, was at Lens yesterday, December 4th, 365km from Paris, to open the new Louvre-Lens museum. The museum is ideally located near the Belgium  border, and the South of England… and from Paris with the high speed train TGV in only 1 hour ! This is surely one of my next destination in january or february ! The museum will open officially on December 12th.

Located in a former coal mining town near the Belgian border, everybody is wondering (and hoping) that the success will be as high as the Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (Spain), celebrating this year already 15 years old, as the Basque city is also located in an industrial region, just as Lens. Well the difference is that in Bilbao, one of the richest region of Spain, the industry is still very active, and the food is… one of the finest in Spain if we consider the proximity of the gastronomy city : San Sebastian !

For this opening, the museum organized a big french fries party (french fries are so typical in this region of France !) next to the main entrance of the museum. I really hope that the happy fews visiting the museum in the evening cleaned their hands ! 

After the Centre Pompidou-Metz opened 2 years ago, and designed by the japanese architect Shigeru Ban, an other parisian museum is now decentralizing its collection outside Paris. Why did the government choose Lens few years ago to make this project ? Because culture is a universal right, and should be as accessible to retired mine workers as urban sophisticates. Also, the government wanted a cultural act to fix the industrial crisis that affected this region in the 60s.

The collection dates back through six centuries, from - 3500 years before Jesus Christ till the mid 19th century. Daylight filters into the galleries though glazed panels on the roof, but rows of louvres prevent direct sunlight from entering. Meanwhile, the aluminium walls create fuzzy reflections inside the rooms. The innovation in this museum is above all the 120 m long Galerie Des Temps (Time Gallery) where the museographer, Adrien Gardère, made the unusual decision to exhibit the works here chronologically and without partitions. Each year, the museaum will renew 20% of the collection. 

Quick facts of the Louve-Lens museum :

  • Japanese architecture agency Sanaa and New York studio Imrey Culbert beat more than 120 firms for the commission to design the new building.
  • Surface area is 28,000 sq m : it is a low-slung of 360 m, horizontal structure comprising a central square and four rectangles, attached at various corners and with slightly curved walls to soften the lines. 
  • Facing the entrance, a clearing planted with trees marks the place where miners descended into the shaft. Pathways leading to the museum echo the former rail lines for transporting coal.
  • An underground area, where the public can observe the storage and restoration of artworks, part of the museum’s educational aspect. 
  • Among the 200 pieces, the iconic masterpiece, ‘La Liberté guidant le peuple' (Liberty leading the People) by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863)now hangs in the Louvre-Lens.
  • The building was broken down into several spaces
  • The architects collaborated with landscape architect Catherine Mosbach to surround the buildings with gardens and pathways.
  • 600 000 visitors are expected to visit the Museum
  • The permanent exhibition if free, the temporary exhibition costs 9€
  • Louvre-Lens budget for its realization reached 150 millions euros 
  • Transparency is a major theme for this museum, and the glass-enclosed entrance hall offers a view of the park and city, while clear glass tubes house the bookstore and cafeteria.

Art is more museums

M.L

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