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New Louvre facility may shelter war-threatened heritage

02nd November 2016

A new Louvre facility could help safeguard artworks and other heritage items that are threatened by war, according to French president Francois Hollande.

Speaking at the unveiling of a plaque for the storage facility in Lievin, northern France, the president said he would put forward the idea at an upcoming conference, called to discuss world heritage preservation, in Abu Dhabi.

"In Abu Dhabi the international community will decide to protect, to promote and even to finance the restoration of a certain number of works. And we are going to suggest that the Lievin conservation site is where such works can be protected," he stated, commenting that terrorists seem to want to destroy "humanity and its masterpieces".

Set to open in 2019, the facility in Lievin, is designed to store and conserve more than 250,000 works of art, which are currently spread across 60 locations in France. Spanning 20,000 square metres, it is located close to the new Louvre-Lens facility - a regional branch of the celebrated gallery.

The storage and conservation site in Lievin is designed to integrate seamlessly with the landscape, with its green roof blending with the natural slope of the terrain.

Whether this building will help safeguard world treasures or not will be an interesting point on the agenda at next month's conference, which was initially announced in July by President Hollande and UAE president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Set to be held at the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi, the French-led conference has three priorities, according to the Committee of Cultural Policy. These are to fight antiquities trafficking, to discuss the reception of endangered cultural property from other states, and to preserve the memory of sites already destroyed. 

Hollande, who has targeted the antiquities trade previously, will suggest proposals for a major international campaign, including shining a light on countries that act as a safe haven for smugglers.

The conference, which will be a meeting of ministers, will include a day of scientific presentations, the Committee explained in its July announcement. It hopes that this will include an accurate analysis of the market for artefacts. 

Expected to be attended by representatives from approximately 40 countries, the conference and its outcomes will be of significant interest to the art world.

Currently, it aims to start a fun to raise £80 million to help safeguard threatened art. 

If the proposal to use the site at Lievin to protect world treasures is approved, these artworks and artefacts will be housed in a building that employs skilled preservation design. Indeed, the latest technology works in harmony with the thermal mass of the surrounding soil, which helps both to maintain the best climatic conditions for art storage and ensure the building's environmental impact is kept to a minimum.

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