Louvre masterworks to light up ex-mining town
Louvre masterworks to light up ex-mining town
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.
Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up
- Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities, says Yamani
- Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region
DHAHRAN: You can see children forming a gigantic circle and listening carefully when story time starts. Ghadeer Yamani, the founder of Grandma Stories, found her passion for spreading the love of reading among children and delivering values through her storytelling sessions.
The Grandma Stories initiative started six years ago when Yamani returned home after spending years abroad owing to her husband’s work. Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region, including the UAE and Bahrain.
“The idea of Grandma Stories was not an epiphany; it came to me after I saw how reading was a huge part of children’s life abroad. I used to see children reading in libraries, in bus stops, in hospitals — everywhere. I wanted to help spread reading culture in my society.
“I wanted children back home to love reading! And with the support of my husband and family, I think I was able to do this,” Yamani told Arab News.
With the prevalence of national reading competitions, school contests and reading clubs, awareness among families and society members is growing. “The interaction and excitement of families and children are amazing when it comes to story time,” said Yamani.
About the title of her initiative, she said: “When I was a child I used to visit my father’s grandmother in Madinah who had a phenomenal way of telling stories and riddles. I still remember how the entire family would get around her as she started telling her tales, and in an atmosphere filled with love and contentment.
“No one ever wanted her stories to finish and nothing could ever distract us while listening to her. That is exactly how I want children to feel in Grandma Stories story time.”
Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities. Yamani allows children to criticize the stories by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each one. The advancement in such skills is what inspires Yamani and keeps her going.
“The fondest moments throughout my years in storytelling have been when mothers come and tell me how their children used to be shy and reluctant but have started to become fluent and can express themselves well, and that Grandma Stories is the reason for this great progress.”