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Louvre-Lens

The Louvre’s planned new storage facility in Liévin near Lens. Source: Louvre.

Gareth Harris, Louvre may safeguard artefacts from war-torn areas, The Art Newspaper, 2 November 2016

French president François Hollande made proposal at opening of Louvre-Lens show on Mesopotamia

Endangered works of art from war-torn regions may be housed at the Louvre’s planned new storage facility in Liévin near Lens, said François Hollande, the President of France, yesterday (1 November).

Hollande was speaking at the Louvre-Lens where he opened the exhibition History Begins in Mesopotamia (until 23 January 2017). The French mission to safeguard cultural sites in areas of conflict, preventing the pillaging and trafficking of objects, is moving ahead, he said. “This show has not come about by chance. We wanted it at the moment when heritage was under threat in Iraq and Syria.”

He reiterated his commitment to protecting cultural heritage in the Middle East, saying that “We must prepare for Iraq post-Mosul”, referring to the ongoing conflict against Islamist extremists (Isil) in the northern Iraqi city. Yesterday, Iraqi government forces entered the outskirts of Mosul for the first time since the city was seized by Isis in June 2014.

The president also confirmed that the United Arab Emirates will host a high-level international conference dedicated to protecting cultural heritage. The event, which is due to take place in Abu Dhabi early next month, will bring together a coalition of states to discuss points of action such as the creation of a global fund for heritage at risk. Jack Lang, a former minister of culture and the president of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, is overseeing the conference.

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