Louvre masterworks to light up ex-mining town

Updated 03 December 2012

Louvre masterworks to light up ex-mining town

THE Louvre will shine the light of high culture on a depressed former mining town this week, as the Paris museum opens a gleaming new satellite among the slag heaps of northern Lens.
President Francois Hollande will cut the ribbon tomorrow on the Japanese-designed new museum, set to host masterpieces by Delacroix and Raphael for its first year of existence.
The Lens site opens to the public on Dec. 12.
Blighted by the closure of the region’s last mines 20 years ago, with unemployment at a stubbornly high 16 percent, Lens is hoping for a renaissance of its own from the glass and polished-aluminum structure.
Following in the footsteps of Paris’s Pompidou Center modern art museum, which opened a satellite in eastern Metz in 2010, the Louvre says its chief goal is to win over the local population.
“Two things would spell failure in my eyes,” the Louvre’s director Henri Loyrette told AFP. “The first would be if the population don’t take ownership of the museum. The second would be if the Louvre’s existing visitors don’t go.”
Just one hour by train from Paris, the Louvre-Lens’ director Xavier Dectot hopes to attract 700,000 visitors for its first year, and half a million per year after that, compared to nine million annual visitors for the Louvre itself.
“We are banking on a lot of visitors who have never set foot in a museum,” said Loyrette.
“We recognize that it is not easy. When we started with the project the words Louvre and Lens just didn’t fit together — a great Parisian institution and a town ravaged by war and industrial crisis.”
The museum’s five sober buildings were intended by the Japanese agency Sanaa to blend into the former industrial site, with the rail tracks that once linked up its pits turned into access roads for instance.
From within its giant glass cube entrance hall, visitors can glimpse the giant slag heaps at Loos-en-Gohelle, the largest in Europe, and the Bollaert stadium, home to the local football team, Racing Club de Lens.
The Nord-Pas-De-Calais region financed 60 percent of the 150-million-euro project.
“We need so badly to lift our heads, to look at the horizon, to show our people the way forward,” said Daniel Percheron, the regional president, of the heavy investment.
For its first five years, the museum’s 125-meter (yard) central gallery will showcase 200 works spanning from Antiquity to 1850 — offering a walk through the history of the Louvre.
The main gallery will be free to access for the first year, while a second space will host temporary paying exhibitions, the first of them focused on the Renaissance, from Italy to Flanders.
“It’s about giving people keys to understand,” explained Genevieve Bresc, the exhibit’s curator and head of the Louvre’s sculpture department.


Beirut-born singer Mika to livestream concert for blast victims

Updated 19 September 2020

Beirut-born singer Mika to livestream concert for blast victims

  • Money raised from the concert will go to Save the Children and the Lebanese Red Cross
  • Some 190 people were killed and 6,000 injured in the Aug. 4 explosion that reduced parts of the city to rubble

LONDON: Beirut-born pop star Mika will livestream a concert this weekend to raise funds for victims of the Aug. 4 port blast in the Lebanese capital, and Mexican actress Salma Hayek and Australian singer Kylie Minogue are among those joining in.

Some 190 people were killed and 6,000 injured in the huge explosion that reduced parts of the city to rubble and deepened an economic and political crisis in the country.

“There’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of sadness,” Mika told Reuters in a Zoom interview.

“And so I think it’s important to provoke empathy, to show the human side of things, to use music ... and just kind of focus on that human side of it for a moment instead of just the politics, which is ... what happens most of the time.”

Money raised from the concert, to be streamed on Mika’s YouTube channel via a private link from 1900 GMT on Saturday, will go to Save the Children and the Lebanese Red Cross to support their work on the ground in Beirut. Tickets cost $12.95.

Mika said performers would be filmed in their local surroundings rather than all being inside, giving viewers more variety, and the concert would feature people caught up in the blast.

They include the family of George, who was born in a hospital that bore the full force of the shockwaves but who survived, earning him the nickname “miracle” baby.