The cornerstone of the new conservation and storage facility to house the reserves of the Louvre was laid in Liévin (northen France) on December 8, 2017 by Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture; Xavier Bertrand, President of Région Hauts-de-France; Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre; Sylvain Robert, President of the Lens-Liévin urban area; and Laurent Duporge, mayor of Liévin. The event kicked off a project that will reach completion in the summer 2019, under the aegis of the architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners.
The Louvre’s new conservation and storage facility was created to protect the museum’s collections from the risk of centennial flooding and improve conditions for conservation and research. Approximately 250,000 works, currently stored in over 60 locations both inside and outside the Louvre palace, will be brought together here. The new research and study facility—one of the most important in Europe—will enhance France’s role in sharing scientific expertise with the world.
The new facility will not be open to the general public. Rather, it will welcome, in a professional setting, partners (museum specialists, restorers, photographers, etc.), researchers and academics, so that they may consult works and participate in training and research programs.
The building, located in the commune of Liévin in a prolongation of the landscaped park of the Louvre-Lens, consists of approximately 18,500 m2 of floor space, of which 9,600 m2 will be reserved for storing works, and 1,700 m2 for study and conservation treatment. It will be built by the British contracted architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, in association with landscape architects from Français Mutabilis Paysage, the technical consultancy Egis Bâtiments Nord, the environmental consultancy Inddigo SAS, and VPEAS SAS, who provides contractor assistance in project management. The consortium designed a landscape building, with a slightly sloping roof fully covered with vegetation. It combines light-filled spaces for people to work and art to circulate, and cutting-edge technology to guarantee stable climatic conditions for the proper conservation of the Louvre’s collections.
Several players foot the bill
The operating budget for the project is estimated at €60 million for all expenditures excluding property costs, of which €42 million accounts for construction. While the French State will finance the bulk of the project, many other players are pitching in to cover the remaining costs: €33.1 million from the Louvre (mostly from proceeds from the use of the Louvre name in the new museum in Abu Dhabi); €18 million from the European Union (FEDER); €5 million from the Hauts-de-France region; and €2.5M from the Ministry of Culture and Communication.
Patrons of the Louvre will provide up to €1.4 million.
It is worth reminding that the Lens-Liévin urban area also contributed up to €2.6 million to the project, which takes into account property costs and preliminary studies. It also provided the land to the State, for use by the Louvre, for a symbolic cost of €1.
Operating costs of the new facility will be entirely covered by the Louvre, thanks to a portion of the interest earned from the Louvre endowment fund, which provides steady and stable revenues.
One of Europe’s biggest research facilities
This study and research facility—one of the largest in Europe— consolidates the synergies that derive from the creation of Louvre-Lens, reinforces the museum’s role in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais mining basin, and boosts the appeal of the territory. It is the Louvre’s and the region’s hope that the facility be an agent for cultural and economic activity by forging partnerships with many museums in the region and promoting training and activities linked to the management of the collections. This will be made possible by scientific and cultural partnerships with universities in Hauts-de-France, continuing education providers, and the Institut National du Patrimoine.
While the top priority of the new Louvre facility is to protect the French national collections, it may also serve as a haven for works from countries experiencing conflict. This request must come from the States themselves, in full compliance with international law, and provided the works be returned safely when the conflict is resolved.