The Louvre Conservation Center
The national collections held in the Louvre’s storage spaces are to be moved to new facilities in Liévin in northern France, in the immediate vicinity of the Louvre-Lens. The Louvre Conservation Center was created to protect the museum’s collections from the risk of centennial flooding and improve conditions for conservation and research.
The new center, inaugurated on October 8, 2017, will contribute to the cultural development of the region alongside the Louvre-Lens.
The Musée du Louvre is located by the Seine, in a zone prone to flooding. Since 2002, the Paris Prefecture, within the framework of the flood risk protection plan (PPRI), has warned the Louvre of the risks centennial flooding could pose to the museum’s collections. Around 250,000 works are currently stored in more than 60 different locations, both within the Louvre palace, mainly in flood-risk zones, and elsewhere in temporary storage spaces pending a permanent solution. The Louvre does have a flood-risk prevention plan (PPCI), but the current estimated evacuation time would not allow for all of the collections to be protected in the event of a flood. Furthermore, some of the storage spaces currently in use no longer meet the conservation and operational requirements of a museum (there is not enough room for treating artworks, for example).
The Louvre Conservation Center will make it possible to bring the reserve collections together in a single, functional space to provide optimal conservation conditions and improve access for the scientific community. It is therefore also an opportunity to modernize conservation, study, and work conditions for researchers, and to reconsider how the reserve collections are organized. This project also runs parallel to the plan to create flood-proof storerooms for each department in the Louvre palace itself (for works in transit, loan replacement works, etc.) as well as study galleries in the permanent collections.
The Louvre Conservation Center will welcome, in a professional setting, partners (museum specialists, conservators, photographers, etc.), researchers, and academics, so that they may consult works and participate in training and research programs.
As for the general public, the Louvre-Lens offers a special interpretation program which allows visitors to visit a storage space and artwork treatment workshops.
The new research and study facility—one of the biggest in Europe—will broaden the scientific reach of France, the region, and the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Mining Basin.
The building will cover approximately 18,500 m² of floor space, with 9,600 m² reserved for storage and 1,700 m² for studying and treating artworks. It was designed by the British architecture firm Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, the consortium’s representative, in collaboration with the French firm Mutabilis Paysage (landscape architects), Egis Bâtiments Nord (technical consultancy), Inddigo SAS (environmental consultancy), and VPEAS SAS (economists). The consortium designed a landscape building with a slightly sloped roof, fully covered with vegetation. It combines light-filled spaces for people to work in and move artworks, and cutting-edge technology to guarantee stable climatic conditions for the proper conservation of the Louvre’s collections.
Financing thanks to a mobilized team
The overall operating budget for the project mounts to €60 million, excluding property costs, of which €42 million is for construction. Many players have mobilized their resources to participate in the financing of the building. The breakdown of funding is as follows: Musée du Louvre: €34.5 million (in large part from the brand licence given to the Louvre Abu Dhabi), European Union + ERDF: €18 million, with Hauts-de-France region as acting manager, Hauts-de-France region: €5 million, Ministry of Culture: €2.5 million.
The Lens-Liévin urban area also contributed up to €2.66 million to the project, which takes into account property costs, preliminary studies, and site servicing. It also provided the land to the State, for use by the Louvre, for a symbolic cost of €1.
Operating costs of the center will be entirely covered by the Louvre, thanks to a portion of the interest earned from the Louvre Endowment Fund, which provides steady and sustainable revenues.
One of Europe's biggest research facilities
This study and research facility—one of the largest in Europe—will strengthen partnerships surrounding the Louvre-Lens, reinforce the museum’s role in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais Mining Basin, and boost the region’s appeal. Both the Louvre and the Hauts-de-France region hope that the center will be an agent for cultural and economic activity by forging partnerships with the 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 and continuing education providers such as the Institut National du Patrimoine.
While the top priority of the center is to preserve the Louvre’s 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.
This project is co-financed by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund.
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