Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

FASHION

Who's next in Paris, an event with international ready-to-wear and fashion accessories collections

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Is there such thing as 'telegenic' victims of war?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

2014-07-22 07:21 IN THE FRENCH PRESS

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Michel Sidibé, UNAIDS Executive Director

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

WEB NEWS

Online scammers exploit MH17 crash

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Too many graphic images from Gaza ?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gaza: online reactions

Read more

  • Hollande says French warship delivery will ‘depend on Russia’s attitude’

    Read more

  • Israel identifies ‘missing’ soldier in Gaza

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies, black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • A call for harmony in riot-hit ‘Little Jerusalem’ Paris suburb

    Read more

  • Widodo poised to become Indonesian president

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

  • Kristoff wins Tour’s flat Stage 15

    Read more

Culture

Louvre opens branch in region hit by industrial decline

Video by Clare Murphy , FRANCE 2

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-12-04

Paris’s famous Louvre museum, home of the Mona Lisa, opened its first regional offshoot on Tuesday in Lens, a former mining town in northern France, in an effort to breathe life into a region hit hard by the effects of industrial decline.

The Paris Louvre opens a regional offshoot this week in a former mining town in northern France, hoping to revitalise a region better known for football fans and takeaway chip stands than the noble pursuit of art.

The 150 million euro ($195 million) art centre in Lens, to be inaugurated by President Francois Hollande on Tuesday, will house a rotating collection of 205 works from the Louvre museum in Paris, along with temporary exhibitions.

Its design, four sprawling rectangles in glass and polished metal structures, bears some resemblance to the modern glass pyramid in Paris. But all similarity ends there.

While the Louvre looks out onto the elegant Tuileries Gardens, with manicured lawns and flowerbeds, Lens offers views onto the Bollaert stadium, home to local football club RC Lens.

In the other direction, slag heaps crowd the skyline.

Louvre outpost opens in Lens

The building itself sits on a disused coalmine, homage to a once-thriving coal industry, and a reminder of an industrial decline that has sapped the region of jobs.

The last mine in Lens, situated in the tip of France near the port of Calais, closed in 1986, according to the town’s website. Today, the unemployment rate stands at 16 percent, well above the national average of 10.2 percent.

Tellingly, the town’s 36,000 residents last hit the headlines in 2008, when their football club played Paris Saint-Germain. Fans in Paris unfurled a giant banner in the stadium, branding the Lensois “Unemployed, Paedophiles and Inbreds.”

The incident came a few months after the hugely popular movie “Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis” poked fun at the region.

The Lens branch is the first ever regional offshoot of the Louvre, which is also planning a brand new museum in Abu Dhabi for 2014.

Louvre President Henri Loyrette said it was time the internationally renowned museum emerged from its privileged cocoon in Paris and played its role as a truly national museum.

“It was very important for the Louvre to be in a place where you didn’t have any culture before,” he told Reuters.

“Lens has been ravaged by all forms of crises, it’s also exactly the type of population we wanted to reach.”

Authorities for the surrounding region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais hope the museum will draw 500,000 visitors a year, from locals to tourists from Paris, London, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Paris Louvre is one of the most-visited museums in the world with around 9 million visitors a year.

Regional council head Daniel Percheron said the Lens branch, which has been three years in the making, could boost economic output in the area by 5 to 10 percent over the next decade and give the town back a sense of ambition.

According to Percheron, the Louvre is just the start of the revitalisation of Lens as the town plans to renovate its old 1930s and 1950s buildings over the next decade and convert them into hotels restaurants and shops for the influx of visitors.

Residents agree the struggling town, where many shops are boarded up and some homes lie derelict, needs revitalising.

Waitress Adeline Grosseny, 26, said she worried the bleak surroundings might alarm people stepping off the train from afar. “It’s a lovely idea and I hope it works,” she said. “I’m not that convinced though - why would anyone want to come here?”

The initial 205 works at the museum are displayed chronologically, and span from the birth of writing in 3,500 BC to the Industrial Revolution.

Among Percheron’s favourite works on loan from Paris is Eugene Delacroix’s famous commemoration of the July Revolution of 1830, called “Liberty Leading the People”.

He said the painting - which portrays Liberty as a brave woman carrying France’s tricolour flag in one hand and a musket in the other urging the people over the barricades - was an apt leadership metaphor for Hollande six months into his term, as he struggles with the euro zone crisis and a stalled economy.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2012-12-04

  • ART

    Louvre ditches audio guides for Nintendo consoles

    Read more

  • JAPAN

    Louvre to send art to Japan's Fukushima

    Read more

  • MUSEUMS

    Louvre museum still world's most visited

    Read more

COMMENT(S)