Louvre-Lens

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Louvre-Lens, designed by SANAA firm of Japanese architects, opened in 2012

The Louvre-Lens museum is barely there: almost transparent and treading very lightly on the ground (that fear of subsidence again). It rests on the site of a former pithead and is now surrounded by landscaped gardens. It’s all very clean.

There were no temporary exhibitions (phew!) and I liked  the Galerie du Temps permanent exhibition. The vast space (which is very disorienting at first) allows for scores of objects to be presented to you all at once. From the earliest Cycladic figurine to Napoleon crossing the Alps by Delacroix, you can wander among them as if in a 3D timeline of European and Middle Eastern history. You can also “chunk” several artefacts at once and notice similarities and influences.  (Obviously the ones that the curators intended you to notice.) I imagine it can be an excellent teaching/learning tool.

Two things I particularly liked:

Their simplicity stood out all the more when, out of the corner of my eye, I could catch a glimpse of the over-blingged-up table that the prince-elector of Saxony presented to someone in the 18th century.

It’s a great building and a lovely idea to reinvigorate Lens, but its success or otherwise will be for the next generation to judge. Meanwhile, the row of miners’ cottages between the museum and the slagheaps is being turned into an hotel.

Hmmm.

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