Louvre opens huge outpost to protect art from flooding

The Louvre museum at night, with the I.M. Pei-designed pyramid in the forefront. 2010 photo by Benh Lieu Song, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

LIEVIN, France (AP) – The Louvre opened a new sprawling art conservation center Tuesday some 200 kilometers from Paris to protect the museum’s priceless artworks from its flood-prone storage reserves.

The Louvre Conservation Center in Lievin, northern France, will help protect valuable works from the swelling Seine River as major floods grow more frequent and the riverside museum has found itself lacking safe storage space.

Protecting the museum’s works – many of which are out of public view in the belly of the former palace – has taken on added urgency in recent years after severe floods in 2016 and 2018 forced the Louvre to evacuate endangered artworks from basements and to close exhibits.

The new outpost is part of the museum’s flood risk prevention plan, which emerged in 2002 at the recommendation of the Paris police.

Officials boast that the newly constructed Lievin site, which lies a short distance from the museum’s other outpost the Louvre-Lens, will store some 250,000 works within a five year period.

Around half of the building’s ample space will be dedicated to art from the famed Paris museum, the world’s biggest. Workrooms, study halls and a photo studio in the new center will be used for research and conservation.

The center will also have enough space to store foreign artworks evacuated from conflict zones at their home countries’ request, according to officials.

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AP-WF-10-08-19 1318GMT