The Louvre opened a conservation center in northern France on Tuesday to protect thousands of priceless artworks previously stored in the famed Paris museum’s flood-prone basements.
The Louvre Conservation Center is located in Liévin, France, about 110 miles northeast of Paris and is expected to house about 250,000 artworks by 2024.
French Culture Minister Franck Riester called the new facility “the pride of the state and the entire region.”
“It’s a bit of the Egyptian pharaohs, the sacred art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance painters who will soon enter the” Louvre Conservation Center, he tweeted.
Museum officials built the conservation center after parts of the Louvre flooded multiple times in recent years due to the Seine River swelling beyond its banks. In January 2018, the museum temporarily closed its basement galleries after the city had its third-wettest December and January since 1900.
In 2016, the Louvre completely closed as flash floods throughout the region bore down on the region, killing several people.
And in July 2017, multiple paintings in the museum sustained damage in a downpour that infiltrated the building.
Water marks were found on two panels of Nicolas Poussin’s Four Seasons as well as The Triumph of Mordecai by Jean-Francois de Troy — all of which were removed for repairs, the Louvre said. Museum officials removed paintings by Georges de la Tour and Eustache Le Sueur where they found water marks on the walls.
Though the Louvre has a flood prevention plan, the museum said there would not be enough time to remove and protect all its works of art in the event of severe flooding. Additionally, some of the museum’s storage spaces no longer meet conservation requirements.
“The move is therefore an opportunity to improve conservation conditions and offer a more suitable space for study and research,” the museum said in a news release. “It is also an opportunity to gather stored works in a single space, whereas up to now, they have been scattered in over 60 different locations, both inside and outside the former palace.”
The new building will also operate as a research and preservation facility.
British architects Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners designed the building along with landscape architects from Français Mutabilis Paysage.