The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 United States Thursday, May 24, 2018

Louvre opens $196 million branch in an abandoned coal mining town in northern France
A general view shows the Louvre Museum at night on the first day of its opening to the public on December 4, 2012 in Lens, northern France. The Louvre museum opened a new satellite branch among the slag heaps of a former mining town Tuesday in a bid to bring high culture and visitors to one of France's poorest areas. Greeted by a group of former miners in overalls and hardhats, President Francois Hollande inaugurated today the Japanese-designed glass and polished-aluminium branch of the Louvre in the northern city of Lens. The 150 million euro ($196 million) project was 60 percent financed by regional authorities in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region, on the English Channel and the border with Belgium. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE HUGUEN.

By: Thomas Adamson, Associated Press

LENS (AP).- The Louvre has embarked on an ambitious quest — opening a €150 million ($196 million) extension in an abandoned coal mining town in northern France that has an unemployment rate nearly three times the national average.

The "Louvre-Lens" project — housed in a futuristic glass and aluminum complex — opens this week in an attempt to silence critics who say French art is limited to the country's Parisian elite.

Proponents say the complex will offer culture to the less cultivated provinces and give residents a unique opportunity to see high-end art.

But for all its trumpeting of uniting everyone through art, the slick museum building instead highlights the contrasts with Lens' depressed city center, which is riddled with closed shops, abandoned houses, angry residents and a boarded-up cinema.

French President Francois Hollande, who visited the museum on Tuesday, didn't even bother to stop off in the city, let alone meet any residents.

To locals, the Louvre's gesture to bring culture to their forgotten city was a bit patronizing.

"Why do we need a museum and culture here? We need money and jobs," said resident Amandine Grossemy, 26. "Who's da Vinci, anyway?"

"We weren't consulted on whether we wanted one," cafe worker Veronique Roszak, 53, said of the museum. "Young people here are looking for work."

"Whoever it helps, it won't be us," said Mounira Hadhek, 26. "They've made us pay for parking now in the city center, I've got €80 ($105) fines already. We can't afford this, all we can afford is one euro on coffee."

"They said that Lens is now alive. Look around, it's dead, all dead," added Roszak, standing next to the closed Apollo theater. "Who'll come here?"

Officials hope Louvre-Lens can help transform the city the way the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, turned a struggling industrial area into a hot travel destination. Lens was picked precisely because it was in such need of a reversal of fortune.

"It's important, as Lens is a territory that has suffered from every crisis, from every war," said Louvre director Henri Loyrette.

The city was reduced to rubble in World War I and occupied by the Nazis and battered by Allied bombings in World War II. Then workers risked their lives daily in the city's coal mines for decades — including enduring a 1974 tragedy in which 42 miners died. When the mines closed — the last one in 1986 — the area was plunged into poverty.

"France abandoned us when the coal stopped, and we became a ghost town," said regional president Daniel Percheron.

The statistics agree: Lens, one of the country's poorest cities, has an unemployment rate of 24 percent, well above the national average of 9 percent.

The museum, designed by a Japanese firm, transformed a former coal mine into a grand, verdant space that boasts 6,600 trees, 26,000 shrubs and a glistening infrastructure of sleek anodized aluminum. The inside is equally impressive, with two sprawling exhibition spaces teaming with works as diverse as ancient Cycladic sculptures, Egyptian diorite statues, 11th century Italian church mosaics and Leonardo da Vinci's restored masterpiece, "The Virgin and Saint Anne."

The permanent open-plan exhibition space offers an encyclopedic overview of two millennia of art along with an avant-garde system of presentation. No work is hung from the aluminum walls, which serve as a mirror for the art.

But it's not clear this will be enough to attract 700,000 visitors in the first year and increase the city's economic output by 10% in 10 years, as officials hope. The area does not have Bilbao's beaches or its noted Basque cuisine.

"It's close to Belgium, southern England and close to Germany," noted Loyrette.

Officials say the museum, eight years in the making, is just the first step in the city's rehabilitation.

"We are telling entrepreneurs and companies: Come here.... Here there is a real future," said Percheron.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

The Louvre | Louvre-Lens | Francois Hollande | Henri Loyrette |

Today's News

December 5, 2012

Louvre opens $196 million branch in an abandoned coal mining town in northern France

Rijksmuseum Schiphol celebrates ten-year anniversary with an exhibition of paintings

Bellwether year for interest in Islamic art increases demand for antique Oriental carpets

New York's Museum of Modern Art to display video games starting in March 2013

Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami is only U.S. venue for major Bill Viola exhibition

PULSE Miami 2012 art fair hosts eighty-six national and international galleries

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum names Greg Harris as President and CEO

Exceptional musical clock owned by Egypt's lavish monarch, King Farouk, leads Bonhams Fine Clocks Sale

Billboards in Times Square spread Yoko Ono's message of peace throughout the holiday season

Leading artists open exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts celebrating history of Fourth plinth

Solo exhibition of works by American painter Martin Mull opens at Ben Brown Fine Arts

Design Miami celebrates its eight edition with thirty-five participating galleries

A dozen church painters from European countries seek to revamp ancient practice

Bonhams Entertainment Sale to include memorabilia from acclaimed science fiction film and television series

Myanmar graffiti artists unhappy with new ban

Moscow Museum of Modern Art opens Aidan Salakhova's largest-ever exhibition

Gallery ups prize money for BP Portrait Award 2013 as call for entries is announced

Absolut Art Bureau at Art Basel Miami Beach-Güiro: An art bar installation by Los Carpinteros

Dinosaur skull seized from Wyoming home

Most Popular Last Seven Days

1.- New Rembrandt found after being bought at London auction

2.- Exhibition at Fotohof focuses on groups in society who are at risk of marginalisation

3.- John Brennan collection of Rock n Roll memorabilia offered at RR Auction

4.- A Bob Dylan guitar fetches $495,000 at auction

5.- Exhibition in San Francisco focuses on the latter half of René Magritte's career

6.- 'Mad' king Ludwig II of Bavaria lost gift to composer Richard Wagner gets rare show

7.- New Royal Academy of Arts opens in celebration of its 250th anniversary

8.- Researchers uncover Anne Frank's 'dirty jokes'in her diary

9.- New York art sales near $3 billion in two weeks as uber-rich hunt trophies

10.- Berlin's Ethnological Museum returns grave-plundered artefacts to Alaska

Related Stories

Louvre Museum Reports it had 8.5 Million Visitors in 2009

Now the Louvre and Versailles Closed by French Museum Strike

Italian Writer Umberto Eco is the Louvre's New Guest Curator

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher:Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez

Royalville Communications, Inc
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful