Authie et Mi

Louvre-Lens : A first look

7th February 2013

When my friends from the 48th Highlanders were over in September we had the chance to visit the new site of the Louvre in Lens. The building was almost finished and the landscaping of the exterior had begun.

The opening ceremony was the 4th December which is St Barbara’s day. The patron saint not only of Firemen but also Miners and the Louvre sits on the site of the old No 9 Colliery. The transformation from a derelict patch of ground to museum has been well done. Parking is near to hand at the Stade Bollaert (That is the Lens football ground) and it is free. A short walk along the former mine railway track takes you to the museum.

During all of 2013 the main gallery is free but you have to pay for special exhibitions. The central exhibition is made up of two hundred and five items that will be there for five years after which time they will be returned to Paris and a new stock brought to Lens.

Peter, Hilary and myself finally managed to get a snow-less day at the beginning of February to drive over and have a look.

The main hall is called the Gallery of Time. This is because all of the exhibits are organised by time period rather than subject. This offers a chance to see how neighbouring civilisations developed their artistic skills.

On entering the gallery my first thought was that there did not seem to be a lot to see. This is because you can see from one end to the other of the 120 metre hall.The items are displayed either in cabinets or free standing and it quickly becomes apparent that the visit is going to take longer than first thought.

There are informative panels here and there explaining the general time period with maps pinpointing each item on view with a wee photo. You slowly pass from antiquity into the renaissance and then on to the late nineteenth century. I never was fussed on much of the painting that came out of the renaissance and having things in order did make you look again and think – well the perspective of that one is right out the window. Rubens ! well he was obviously not concentrating on the furniture.

Whilst walking about Peter and I both remarked about the lack of evident security and as many of the items were right in front of you at times it was hard not to touch as you admired the carving or painting.

The upshot of this was that no more than fifteen minutes after we had left a woman scrawled over Delacroix’s : Liberty leading the people. The painting is justifiably famous and thankfully the damage (in indelible marker) was not so severe that it could not be quickly removed.

The woman who attacked the painting was acting in support of AE911 which is an organisation that disputes that the World Trade Centre collapsed due to the aircraft impacts. They say it was blown up by demolition charges. I assume that they mean that Americans blew it up (Sorry – the American secret services).

Back to the real world. After two hours we had seen sufficient without having seen everything and I would happily go back again for another look. Just have to be a bit quicker getting through the older periods.

Posted : 26 February 2013

Pas de Calais,