The Other Louvre Museum.

07/27/2017 04:44 pm ET
Louvre-Lens, photo Philippe Chancel.

If you cannot make it to Paris, there is another Louvre Museum…

The Louvre-Lens is in the town of Lens, in Northern France - some 200 km north of Paris. The museum displays artifacts from the original Louvre Museum in Paris. Pieces are lent to the art gallery on a medium to long-term basis.

The Louvre-Lens annex aims at providing access to cultural institutions for people who live outside of the capital. A worldwide design contest was won by the Japanese SANAA architectural firm, together with New York firm Imrey Culbert, French landscape architect Catherine Mosbach, and museum specialists from the Studio Adrien Gardère.

Located in the Pas-de-Calais province, the town has about 32,000 inhabitants, but it's one of France most densely populated region.

The French government planned that the location of the Louvre annex near the northern border of France would most likely attract visitors from the UK, Belgium (50 miles away), and Germany. Amsterdam is a three-hour drive away and the Scandinavian countries would also be near the off-site museum. All tourists visiting from all over Europe would also appreciate avoiding coming to Paris, where hotels, food, and other utilities would be much more costly than in Lens.

Louvre-Lens - photo Philippe Chancel

Built on the 49 acres of a former mining site that closed in the 1960s, the low-profile buildings are meant to blend into the surroundings. The fact is that the glass walls and polished aluminum facades definitely blurs the lines by reflecting the landscape around. In total, the five sleek, shiny and simple boxes are placed on a raised level formed by the detritus of mining.

Louvre-Lens chosen location demonstrates the intent of the museum to participate in the conversion of an abandoned mining area. With wings laid almost flat, the architects wanted to bring to mind boats on a river coming together to dock.

The park around is reflecting in the smooth shining material of the structure, creating continuity between the museum and the surrounding landscape. The 300,000 SF of exhibition space is comprised of a central building flanked by two wings mimicking the Paris Louvre buildings layout. The reflecting structures seem to vanish under the rain, only to come shining when the sun hits them.

In the main wing, La Galerie du Temps (the Time Gallery) offers an unusual route through the History of Art. Over 200 artworks are on display until the end of 2017, when 20 percent of the art will be changed, on the anniversary of the museum on Dec. 4. After that and regularly every year, the rotation of the pieces will create a loyal following among visitors who could return each year to find a new tour and a renewed experience.

Louvre-Lens - Frédéric Iovino

The Louvre of Paris is not the first museum to dispatch its name and some of its works to another location - The New York Guggenheim did it in Bilbao, and the Paris Pompidou has a branch in Metz (also in the northern part of France). There is also a Louvre Museum in the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi.

See here and here short virtual visits of the Louvre-Lens.

Musée du Louvre-Lens

99 rue Paul Bert - 62300 Lens

Tel: 03 21 18 62 62

Open every day 10 a.m.-6 p.m., except Tuesdays.

Closed Jan. 01; May 01; Dec. 25.

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Louvre-Lens Galerie du temps.
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