The Louvre Lens Museum

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The Louvre Lens Museum is just opposite the hotel. This “second“ Louvre is obviously connected to the Parisian Louvre and was founded in-line with a plan put together by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Minister of Culture at the time, to localise cultural institutions which are mainly concentrated in Paris. Lens was chosen out of the six cities in the North that applied for the satelite museum. The architecture was entrusted to Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa from the SANAA agency, French landscaper Catherine Mosbach designed the gardens and Studeio Adrien thought up the museum’s interior lay out. Building began in December 2010 and ended 30th June 2012. 5,000 visitors and President François Holland attended the opening 4th December 2012.

The museum is a symbol of the coalfield’s conversion and was built on the old mining pit No.9. The 300,000 sq ft area (1,200 ft long) was designed as a new wing of the Parisian Louvre. The architects wanted to keep the vegetation which had grown over the land where the colliery used to stand, and use the curves of the land to melt into the surroundings. The museum facades are covered in anodized aluminium and the windows reflect Catherine Mosbach’s beautifully landscaped grounds. The horizontal and vertical lines of the architecture were designed to sublty recall the mining galleries.

The novel and educational works inside the museum have been set up in an original way. In stead of classically presenting works from different schools and trends, they are exhibited in choronological order from antique times, through the Middles Ages to our modern era. This type of organisation is quite remarkable at the Galerie du Temps where 200 works have been placed in rows in a way that offers visitors a myriad of artistic diversity in one glance. There are also major international exhibitions on tour including paintings, sculptures and other museum works based on a theme, or by a particular artist, or from an era or civillization such as l’Europe de Rubens, les métamorphoses and l’Amour more recently. The Glass Pavillion at the end of the Galerie du Temps is an experimental section exhibiting more modern works. Thanks to glass facades, the section is bright and offers views of the gardens enticing visitors to take their time. Part of Northern France’s local heritage is also in this section to show off the wide variety of works which can be seen at other museums in the region.
Their innovative vision has inspired other museums.