Friday, 11 January 2013

A winter visit to Louvre-Lens

Photo: Graham White 2013
The Louvre-Lens is an art museum situated in the former mining town of Lens, in Northern France. It displays objects from the collections of the Musée du Louvre and it opened on 12.12.12.

We visited it barely three weeks after it had opened and were amazed by the number of visitors it was already attracting. This is no palace and quite unlike the ornate warren in Paris. It is a series of single storey buildings with the vast main gallery at the heart of it. It looks a lot like an aluminium shed and if you enjoy spare architecture you will find this very pleasing. The architects who designed it are Japanese, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa and the design sits well within the landscaped gardens that are still being established.

The art is displayed in a strictly chronological order and there is a time line etched into one of the long walls so you can always check where you are in history. You might find you are looking at an Egyptian statue which is next to a floor made of mosaic from a different civilisation. Since we are generally used to looking at art from the same period or the same school this takes a little getting used to.

You need to allow at least an hour and a half to do this display justice and fortunately there is a café in the entrance hall where you can recharge your batteries. We were most impressed with this museum and plan to visit it again as well as exploring this part of northern France we previously knew nothing about.

Entry is free as is the shuttle bus going to and from the station. There is a charge for the temporary exhibition which is on until March 2013 and the current one is about the Renaissance. Lens is a one hour train ride from Lille.

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