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The Louvre preemptively moves artwork to a safe home to protect the work from the floods of the Seine

From ancient times to the 19th century, 100,000 works have already been transferred, including paintings, carpets, tapestries, magnificent sculptures, small figurines, furniture and ornaments.

This is the most ambitious move in the history of the Louvre. A five-year project to move 250,000 works of art to an ultra-modern storage location 190 km away in northern France.

For over 16 months, a stream of trucks quietly carried treasure from the museum’s central Paris basement and elsewhere to the Louvre Conservation Center, a cultural fortress founded in the town of Liévin near Lens. ..

From ancient times to the 19th century, 100,000 works have already been transferred, including paintings, carpets, tapestries, magnificent sculptures, small figurines, furniture and ornaments.

The Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez is taking the time as the French museum is closed due to a pandemic. Recently, he has become one of Europe’s largest centers of arts and research, taking a few reporters on a tour of a newly operated site aimed at welcoming museum experts, scholars and restorationists from around the world. went.

The Louvre is located in the lowlands along the banks of the Seine. In 2016, the floods in Paris were so severe that the museum itself was threatened, 24-hour emergency operations were carried out, and thousands of works of art were wrapped in hills from underground storage, placed in crates and luck. You got me.

The conservation project in Liévin, costing € 60 million (about $ 73 million), was launched in late 2017 as a necessary response to the unpredictable and unavoidable rise of the river.

Workers will move their work on February 9, 2021 at the Louvre Conservation Center in Liévin, France. The museum wants the facility to become one of Europe’s largest art research centers. (Dmitry Kostyukov / The New York Times)

“In reality, our museum is in a flooded area,” Martinez said on a tour. “You can’t pick up a marble sculpture and move it,” he says. “There was a danger that the sewers would recede and the dirty, odorous wastewater would damage the art. We had to find a solution. Urgently.”

The Louvre considered the idea of ​​building a site near Paris and then rejected it. It’s too expensive and impractical. Instead, I chose Liévin, a 10-minute walk from the Louvre outpost in the neighboring town of Lens, which opened in 2012.

Once a thriving mining center, this French pocket has never recovered economically from the bombing of World War I and the collapse of the coal industry. The local government was keen to expand the presence of the Louvre and attract visitors, so the Louvre sold most of its land to a conservation center for a symbolic amount of € 1.

Opened in October 2019, the glass, concrete and steel structures look like Bauhaus-style bunkers, partially buried in the landscape.

The chalky sand subsoil above the chalk bedrock absorbs excessive rainfall. A special German leak detection system double-waterproofs the roof. Complex security systems protect against terrorist attacks and fires. Bright green luminaires hanging throughout the facility capture and kill dangerous enemies such as the furniture beetle.

The Louvre moves artwork to a safe home with a first strike to protect it from purse seine floods

Art at the Louvre Conservation Center in Liévin, France, February 9, 2021. The museum wants the facility to become one of Europe’s largest art research centers. (Dmitry Kostyukov / The New York Times)

The truck moves the artwork to the garage, where it is unloaded and placed in a temporary room where it adapts to its surroundings and eliminates contaminants. Six concrete-walled storages, each focused on different types of objects, span nearly 2.4 acres (9,712 square meters). There is space for artisans, restorers, researchers and photographers at the Louvre, and ultimately for people at other museums. The Louvre hopes that one day this place will become a paradise for endangered art in countries facing war and conflict.

Visiting a vault with towering ceilings, fluorescent lights, and floor-to-ceiling windows, Martinez stopped by wrapping marble and stone blocks in plastic and stacking them in a crate on a heavy metal shelf.

“There’s not much to see in a well-made storage facility,” he said, a hint of an apology in his voice. “Everything is tightly wrapped.”

Suddenly, on a high shelf near the ceiling, I found a complex piece of marble, carved by Bernini, that underlies the famous ancient statue at the Louvre Museum in Herm Prodite. And on the lower ledge, he pointed out a 1,300-pound block of stone that was part of a building near the ancient Greek ruins of another precious sculpture of the Louvre, Winged Victory of Samothrace.

“Researchers can ask to see Bernini or say,’I want to see the work of Samothrace!’,” He said.

In a nearby vault, senior curator Isabel Hasselin examined and cataloged more than 12 small terracotta figurines of the Roman goddess Minerva found in Turkey. Hasselin lifted one and explained that two women folded their arms out of a drawer in a metal cabinet and were badly restored with glue and metal pins in the 1960s.

“We can do deep research here, away from the hustle and bustle of Paris, and away from the worry of floods,” she said. “What a relief.”

The Louvre moves artwork to a safe home with a first strike to protect it from purse seine floods

Preliminary survey by 16th century Italian artist Giulio Romano at the Louvre Conservation Center in Liévin, France, on February 9, 2021. The museum wants the facility to become one of Europe’s largest art research centers. (Dmitry Kostyukov / The New York Times)

The Louvre has a collection of 620,000, the largest in the world. Only 35,000 of them are on display in Paris. An additional 35,000 are shared by the French regional museums. Over 250,000 drawings, prints and manuscripts that are fragile and unexposed to light are stored in the Louvre Museum on the upper floors, which is safe from floods.

The basement is not the only shelter for invisible works of art at the Louvre. Some are hidden in other storage areas throughout the museum. Others are kept in secret locations throughout the country, where they have been moved for storage over the years. By the end of December, 80 percent of the most vulnerable flood zone construction had been removed, according to Conservation Center Director Bryce Matthew.

In the process, the curator made some amazing discoveries. The forgotten crate was found to be filled with 6,000-year-old ceramic debris from the ancient Persian city of Susa. The restorer tied it into a vase. Another discovery from Susa was the stone shoulder that belonged to the sculpture of the goddess Narundi, 4,000 years ago in the museum.

When Martinez wandered through the hall of the center with Marie Lavandie, the director of the Louvre, they probably came across an 18th-century leather box adorned with gold fleur de lis, which once had a crown. Lavandier took a picture with her cell phone.

“I see objects like this, and I tell myself, really, we protect all the treasures and sophistication throughout the history of the museum,” she said. It was. “It moves me to the core.”

Elaine Sciolino c.2021 New York Times Company

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The Louvre preemptively moves artwork to a safe home to protect the work from the floods of the Seine

Source link The Louvre preemptively moves artwork to a safe home to protect the work from the floods of the Seine

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