Username Password  
  Forgot your password?  

Musée du Louvre-Lens
Louvre-Lens Museum

Providing a huge exterior area for a museum is an integral part of the Louvre project in the regions. The Louvre-Lens, designed in close coordination between architects and landscapers, presents an unprecedented relationship and dialog between the museum and the landscaped setting surrounding it. This porous relationship between architecture and setting is often reflected in the term «Park Museum». Despite its impressive size, the museum is harmoniously and subtly embedded into its surroundings, the former coal mine taken over by nature, whose fragile beauty and entire breadth have been preserved.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaThe choice of placing the museum on a former mine illustrates the intent of the museum to participate in the conversion of the mining area, while retaining the richness of its industrial past. The Louvre-Lens site is located on 20 hectares of wasteland that was once a major coal mine and has since been taken over by nature since its closing in 1960. The land presents some slight elevation, the result of excess fill from the mine.

The Japanese architects from SANAA, Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa wanted to avoid creating a dominating fortress, opting instead for a low, easily accessible structure that integrates into the site without imposing on it by its presence. The structure is made up of five building of steel and glass. There are four rectangles and one large square with slightly curved walls whose angles touch. It is reminiscent of the Louvre palace, with its wings laid almost flat. The architects wanted to bring to mind boats on a river coming together to dock gently with each other. The facades are in polished aluminum, in which the park is reflected, ensuring continuity between the museum and the surrounding landscape. The roofs are partially in glass, reflecting a particular advantage to bringing in light, both for exhibiting the works and for being able to the sky from inside the building. Natural light is controlled by means of a concealment device in the roof and interior shades forming the ceiling. Designed as an answer to the vaulted ceiling, the surface retains in its light the change of seasons, hours and exhibitions.

The entire structure of 28,000 square meters extends over 360 meters long from one end of a central foyer in transparent glass to the other. The buildings located to the East of the entrance - the Grande Galerie and the Glass Pavilion - primarily house the Louvre’s collections. To the West of the entrance is the temporary exhibition gallery and La Scène, a vast «new generation» auditorium, whose programs are in direct relation with the exhibitions.

The museum also includes a large, invisible, two level space, buried deep in fill from the site. This space will be dedicated to service functions for the public, but will also be used for storage and logistical functions of the museum. Two independent buildings house the administrative services, to the South, and a restaurant, to the North, thus establishing a link between the museum, the park and the city.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaThe park is an essential component of the museum’s identity and it helps to make a visit to Louvre-Lens an enriching and wide reaching experience. It combines a diversity of places and fixtures, to include a forecourt, a clearing, pasture areas, grasslands, terrace, a small lake, a pioneer forest, gardens, paths and an esplanade, serving a variety of functions:

  • Orient and guide visitors to the museum. From the station, the various parking lots and the surroundings, featuring no fewer than 11 entrances into the park, will guide visitors along walking paths to the museum entrances.
  • Extend the museum outside of its walls, through cultural and show events such as concerts, screenings and shows. The museum park is set up to be able to greet a large group of people, especially the North esplanade and the meadow to the East of the park.
  • Promote the adoption of the museum by all inhabitants of Lens and its region: The park is also intended to be a place for life, relaxation and leisure. A nearby garden, ideal for walks and meeting up with neighbors.

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaThe park will furthermore provide a strong link between the museum, the city and the surrounding territory: This place has been designed to highlight the memory and history associated with the site. The designers used the vestiges of the mining operations on the site, known as « Shaft number 9 » for inspiration. Thus the paths follow the course of former paths, rails that linked the pits to the station for moving coal dug out of the mine. The historical site and mine entrance have also been preserved and incorporated as benchmark elements of the project.

From the park, the qualities of the entire territory hold the place of honor through view points over the urban landscape and distant horizons.

Vegetation also received particular attention through the preservation of rare species on site and planting of native species as well as non-native plants, intended to set the conditions for a sustainable landscaped environment that infuses the museum with long-term vitality. Access to the park is free of charge and it will be open outside of museum hours.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue Nishizawa«In keeping with a desire to maintain the openness of the site and to reduce the ascendancy of this large project, the building was broken down into several spaces. Through their size and layout, which follow the gradual changes in terrain elevation, the buildings achieve balance with the scale of the site and the shape of the paths, landscape features evoking its mining history.
In order to visually and physically open up the site, the main glassed area features a hollow in the core of the building. This delicate glass box serves as an entry hall to the museum and is a genuine public space for the city of Lens. It is transparent and opens up to several directions of the site, and it can be crossed through to get to different quarters of the city.

The project avoids the strict, rectilinear shapes that would have conflicted with the subtle character of the site, as well as of free shapes that would have been overly restrictive from the perspective of the museum’s internal operations. The slight inflection of the spaces is in tune with the long curved shape of the site and creates a subtle distortion of the inner areas while maintaining a graceful relationship with the artwork. The spaces are contained by a façade of anodized, polished aluminum that reverts a blurred and fuzzy image of the sites contours, reflections that change as one strolls by depending on the landscaping and available light. The main exhibition buildings flank the entry hall, the Grande Galerie on one side and the temporary exhibition hall on the other. The entrance hall leads to a lower level that contains storage space and artwork restoration areas. The museum thus opens its rear areas to the public.

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaIn the park, two free standing buildings house the administration offices and the restaurant, linking the museum to the city. The entry to the museum is located at the center of the former pit and is the historical access to the site, rising gently from Paul Bert street. The transparent areas in the building provide views of the surrounding wood and the city of Lens. This entry point provides a perspective of the entire building and of the panorama over the park reflected in the glass and aluminum surfaces. The entry area was designed as a void that is part of the landscape and visible from everywhere. It takes in visitors arriving at the museum from the main North entrance, as well as from the grassy areas to the East and the wood from the West. This large, transparent area of 68.5 X 58.5 meters is an ample space within which diverse functional areas exist for the museum’s visitors. There is a bookshop, a cafeteria for meeting friends, a place to obtain information about the exhibitions; or one can simply cross the hall to go from one side or the other of the park or the site. The glass «bubbles» are 3 meters high and seem to float within the interior of the hall. They are primarily for public- related functions and provide areas for individual experiences.»

Access to the first lower level of the building is at the center of the hall, inciting visitors to enter the art storage area and the services area containing washrooms and dressing rooms. Also on the first lower level may be found the group meeting area, providing a specific greeting location without interfering with the normal flow of individual visitors. Staff areas have their own entrance and are located in the center of the museum, also on the first lower level. The sitting room is located to the south of the hall, in one of the glass bubbles. Although it is closely connected to all museum activities, it is still a more intimate space apart. The floor of the hall is a layer of concrete with a light colored finish.

Slim steel columns painted white support the metallic roof structure.
Openings overhead reflect the geometric themes present in the hall, to the right of openings in the slab that direct light to the lower level. The ceiling is covered with sheets of perforated aluminum of a very light color, reflecting natural light and drifting over the entire underside. The facades are large, full-height glass bays that are double insulated. A system of roll-down shades provides protection from the sun.

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue Nishizawa Catherine Mosbach«From as far as the view carries from the four horizons of the Loos-en-Gohelle hills, visitors follow the former paths under locust trees. The Louvre-Lens museum park occupies a horizontal hillock resulting from the storage of mining operations waste that attains elevations of up to 4 meters above the adjoining « garden cities ».
The terrain is joined to the four points of the compass over several kilometers by what remains of the paths: rail infrastructure installed for transporting coal to stations and ports. Through this the Museum Park profoundly irrigates the surrounding land, just as the garden cities naturally come up through these gentle paths to the threshold of the Louvre-Lens exhibition galleries. Here is where rhythms oscillate between light and shade contrasts of the forest edge and the glare of the clearings. The vectors of the five principal paths wind through the parallel to visitor service routes.
Alongside the main routes, which are direct paths, an array of smaller paths invite people to less purposeful strolls, slower paths, to visit the garden and the flat show areas.

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue Nishizawa Catherine MosbachThe oblong shape of the park that traces its industrial goods flow logic softened the way the land was landscaped. The abandoned railways were the first enclaves for vegetation to flourish, resulting in a volunteer forest to the west and flora and fauna laden corridors on the borders of overgrown pathways. The critical mass of this spontaneous, flourishing vegetation as well as that of the adjoining garden cities is a major advantage for this urban setting. What was needed was to connect the original vegetative vitality to the attractiveness of the terrain and the cultural dynamics of the museum itself, to the show platforms and the gentle slopes of the paths that are a vestige of the mining base. In other words, the park revives the living memory the cycle of plant materials to coal transformed into an economic resource, then in inverse symmetry, from coal to plants that becomes an heritage resource.

Among the reception facilities are rest areas, hemmed grassy areas around relaxation spots on the forecourt, or monoliths in hollows backing silt garden beds. These provide picnic locations, pedagogic aids associated with the temporary gallery exhibition, memorial gardens calling to mind the plant to coal cycle or simply nearby green spaces with full southern exposure. The area of the cleared park is anchored by prairie formations surrounded by wood borders: high grassy fields going from East to West peppered with mown grass avenues, miniature gardens near the residential quarters, grassy couches and mossy halos near the center, a cortege of young plants everywhere as undergrowth.

The contours of the project mix exterior with interior, open to the paths of the populations like the work of time, water, vegetation, forming to produce landscaped areas and the work of people in real time.

This is neither a public park nor a peri-urban forest: It is a museum in a regenerating natural park.»

Catherine MOSBACH

The Grande Galerie, the master wing of the Louvre-Lens, extends over 120 meters in length the East of the entrance hall and comprises a spectacular surface of 3,000 contiguous square meters. Its interior and exterior walls are clad in anodized aluminum.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaUnlike other museums, the Louvre-Lens has no proprietary collections. The Galerie du Temps will exhibit masterpieces from the Louvre in the Louvre-Lens building for a five-year period using a time scale presentation. The 120 meters of length will exhibit the beginnings of writing around 3500 BC up to the mid-nineteenth century, covering all civilizations and techniques and thus embracing the chronological and geographic gamut of the collections of the Louvre museum. The Galerie du Temps is structured around three major periods: 70 works for Antiquity, 45 from the Middle Ages and 90 Modern period works.

Periodic renewal of exhibitions
A total of 205 works or combined works will be exhibited in the Galerie du Temps for five years. This will be a semi-permanent exhibition, in as much as most of these works will remain in Lens for five years. Just under 20% of them will be rotated out after one year, on the anniversary of the museum’s opening, 4 December, then periodically every year. This rotation will contribute to securing the loyalty of a returning public, who will see a renewed presentation every year.

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaA transversal presentation: a new look at the Louvre’s collections
The commitment to a single area for exhibitions will make it possible to align work produced by different civilizations and cultures that were conceived during the same historical period. This makes it possible to avoid the constraints of the Louvre in Paris where collections exhibited by departments prevent works from like eras but with different techniques or civilizations to speak to each other. In Lens, the contrary is true, as the public will be able to view masterpieces from the Greek classical period of the fifth century before Christ alongside those from the Persian Empire or Egypt in the time of the pharaohs. This is a completely new understanding of the history of art and humanity now made possible.
The Renaissance period will feature work by Italian, French, Spanish or Northern European artists, a group including Pérugin, Raphaël, El Greco, Maler, Jean Goujon, offering an original and unprecedented presentation denoting the singularity of that epoch. As a complement to this chronological approach, thematic paths help visitors perceive through the passage of time how representations of some major themes changed, such as the art of the portrait, the landscape, the representation of power or religion. Only through the immense variety of the Louvre’s collections, periodically rotated, can such a tracing through the history of the arts be achieved.

Masterpieces originating from all curatorial departments of the Louvre
All the departments have lent pieces for this Galerie du Temps: There are 25 works for the Near Eastern Antiquities, 21 from the Egyptian antiquities, 31 from the Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, 37 from the Islamic Art department, 31 from the Decorative Arts department, 30 from Paintings and 30 works from the Sculptures. Only Prints and Drawings, which have specific exhibition conditions, are not exhibited in this part of the museum, but will be located in the temporary exhibition section.
From the opening of the museum, the greatest masterpieces and the greatest artists at the Louvre will be exhibited at Lens. Among the jewels to be exhibited are La Liberté guidant le peuple by Delacroix, emblem of the romantic revolutionary enthusiasm , a Virgin and Infant of Botticelli, a Saint Sebastian by Pérugin, the famous Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, writer and diplomat of Raphael, a Tombstone of André Blondel de Rocquencourt by Jean Goujon, Ixion, king of Lapithes, fool by June who he tried to seduce by Rubens, Landscape Orpheus and Eurydice by Poussin, Saint Mathew and the angel by Rembrandt, La Madeleine à la veilleuse by La Tour, Landscape with Paris et Oenone by Claude Lorrain, Mariana Waldstein by Goya, Louis-François Bertin by Ingres, etc.
Adrien Gardère’s approach to museum exhibition design

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaIn 2009, SANAA called on Studio Adrien Gardère to come up with the museum design layout and to decide where to place the artworks in all the exhibition spaces, storage rooms and, most importantly of all, in the Galerie du Temps.
«The interior layout of the Grande Galerie, the backbone of the Musée du Louvre-Lens, designed by the Studio Adrien Gardère, breaks with the canons of traditional museum exhibition design.
The Studio Adrien Gardère chose to remove any partitions in order to heighten the perception of the exceptional scale of the building (120-metres long and 25-metres wide) and give shape to the scientific project (which lays down a chronological route through 5,000 years of art history). A bold and innovative aim for a spectacular exhibition space (almost 3,000 m2 in a single open space) born of the desire to provide visitors with a unique overview of the history of art from ancient civilizations right up to 1850. In addition to this aim, a decision was made in conjunction with the SANAA architects to leave the internal walls of the Grande Galerie entirely free and to clad them in slightly reflective anodised aluminium. A timeline on the south wall enhances the space and the visit with the major milestones in human history. By removing all partitions and keeping the walls free, the Studio Adrien Gardère has placed the groups of artworks at the heart of the architecture.
Visitors will move around, wander, stop, contemplate and take rests around these groups of artworks (grouped by geographic region, history or style, created with the Louvre’s scientists).
The geometry, radical nature of the design and precision with which they are arranged means that the museum furnishings control how people circulate, design the various routes and invite visitors to wander in a way that is far from the rationality so prized in the West and favours the breaking down of hierarchies. No region or era can claim to be the focal point in the Galerie du Temps.
The museum furnishings, consisting of a series of platforms, picture rails and plinths, are always set apart from the aluminium walls in which they are reflected slightly and boast a refined, almost ethereal aesthetic. Following the example of the buildings clean lines, the edges are perfectly pure.
The clear and matte tones of the materials emphasise and magnify the many colours on display in the artworks.
The museum furnishings sequence the groups of artworks (from the same civilization, geographic area or era); re-works the temporality (often bringing together artworks separated by centuries), or even creates breaks (of styles and techniques). They suggest what is out of scope, infer connections (one work becoming the detail of another) and lead to panoramic views. So many options that would be impossible in traditional exhibition design.
Working on the relationship between the artworks was a fundamental factor. Every point of view has been considered. The design, lighting, layout, circulation: everything has been designed to highlight the artworks and grant the visitor the freedom and pleasure of establishing a dialogue between them, an infinite conversation that is endlessly reinvented by its own movement.»

Adrien Gardère
The Pavillon de Verre (or Glass Pavilion) is a continuation of the Grande Galerie, a place where visitors can explore issues in more depth through annual themed exhibitions. These will act as a counterpoint to the collection in the Galerie du Temps.
The Pavilion de Verre is a smaller space covering 1,000 m2 and offers visitors a chance to rest and other ways of viewing the artworks. It has been designed as a space that combines relaxation, pleasure and experimentation that provides insights.
The full, transparent glass walls make it a space that opens out onto the grounds and the surrounding area. Benches invite visitors to take a break and take in the views, especially the Loos-en-Gohelle slag heap and the legendary Bollaert-Delelis stadium.
Every year the Pavillon de Verre develops another theme which will act as a complement to the exhibition in the Grande Galerie. It also offers « a history of time »over five years in the continuation of the Galerie du Temps’ chronological route that will be in place for the same period. The first section of this programme is dedicated to how we perceive time.
Other artworks are brought together and contemporary art is also introduced in order to invite visitors to gain greater understanding of the questions that run through the history of art as well as the relationship of the artworks to the museum.
In addition to drawing from the Louvre’s collections, the exhibitions will also make use of artworks from other museums in the region. Indeed, the Louvre-Lens seeks to showcase the wealth of local museum heritage in the Pavilion de Verre.
It is also the place where the Musée du Louvre-Lens willingly opens itself to contemporary art.
«The Pavillon deVerre is the place where the theme ofTime is examined in more detailed and expanded.
In response to the structural central « bubble » and echoing the glass bubbles in the museum’s entrance hall, the Studio Adrien Gardère and the architects have come up with a design for this space; two more bubbles capable of hosting future exhibitions and handling circulation, rest and contemplation of both the artworks and the grounds.
These bubbles re-draw the space of the Pavilion de Verre. The spaces enclosed within each one are the heart of the exhibition and delve deeper into a specific theme. The intermediate spaces offer a series of views out over the grounds and beyond. Some artworks on display outside the bubbles serve as transition points within the exhibition.
Visitors circulate the Pavilion de Verre in a loop and, once they have completed viewing the temporary exhibition they will come upon «the course of time» in the Grande Galerie.»


The selection of major exhibitions is one of the fundamental elements of the Louvre-Lens and is essential to the project’s success. For this reason an entire gallery of some 1,800 m2 is used exclusively for this purpose. This gallery runs along 80 metres to the west of the entrance hall. At the western end it can open out onto the scenic space of La Scène.
The architecture of the Galerie d’exposition temporaire, or temporary exhibition gallery, echoes that Grande Galerie through its installation at the opposite end, its open space form and overhead natural lighting. However, its less monumental proportions and internal walls intentionally left white clearly mark it as distinct. The vast free space means that a new design layout can be created for every exhibition. Thus, a style of museum exhibition design markedly different from that in the Galerie du Temps was chosen for the inaugural exhibition, distinguishing it through partitioning and sequencing of the route and using colour.
Every year, two large exhibitions of an international scale will be held in this gallery whose aim is to attract a large number of regional, national and international visitors.

The scheduling of these exhibitions will be set in close collaboration with the programmes of the museums in the Nord- Pas de Calais region and the Louvre in Paris. The consistency of the scheduling between the Louvre and the Louvre-Lens is the very basis of the project and will offer the same level of quality with different programmes. The importance of choosing the right curators and subjects is essential and in line with the tradition of excellence of the Musée du Louvre. Qualitative demands go hand in hand with the desire to come up with exhibitions that are accessible to all.

The large exhibitions will be held twice a year, one in summer and the second in winter. They will be designed in such a way that alternating the exhibitions will put an era or a place or cross-disciplinary themes into perspective within the history of art. The summer programme will help attract tourists to the region, especially foreign tourists and will establish the Louvre-Lens on the circuit of major summer exhibitions. The opening in June is also the opportunity to offer school students in the region an end-of-year outing.

The summer-winter exhibitions are geared towards presenting an artistic period or a civilization in a more educational context.

The opening exhibition will be devoted to the Renaissance.

The subject matter of the following exhibitions will be «Rubens and Europe» and then the Etruscans, thereby placing the Louvre-Lens at the very heart of European regional culture current affairs.
«For the building designed to house large temporary exhibitions, the Studio Adrien Gardère made a decision from the outset to use a stark contrast with the interior fittings of the Grande Galerie. On the one hand, the Galerie du Temps with its single-space design where everything is open and horizontal, and on the other, for the Renaissance, Revolutions in the arts in Europe 1400-1530 exhibition and its many sections, we have a multiplication of rooms, carefully handling the series of looks, dialogues and rows, offering a wide variety of spaces, colours and configurations in order to endow the visit with a sense of rhythm and to surprise the visitor.
In order to create this pace, the Studio Adrien Gardère completely re-designed the space using picture rails. These, however, never touch the building.Visitors will pass from one room to another through large arches which, at some points in the exhibition, align to offer perspectives echoing the architectural principles of the Renaissance.
Some closed spaces step away from the rest of the exhibition and examine a specific subject in greater depth. This is the case of the section dedicated to the « discovery of the body »whose apse shape alludes to anatomical theatres, or indeed the room dedicated to depictions of Venus.
Other, «transversal» spaces have different geometric shapes that can be seen at different points along the route and which enable visitors to compare several themes, such as the central « Period Room » reconstruction showcasing the art of living. The room dedicated to the exhibition’s major artwork, Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Anne is displayed in a special way that sets it apart from the other rooms. The Saint Anne can be viewed at both the beginning and the very end of the route in relation to the portrait of the painter’s patron, Francis I.
The exhibition furnishings also contrast with the rest of the museum. Made entirely of wood that appears solid and untreated, it draws it inspiration from the large wooden tables of the Renaissance and notably those seen in Dürer’s engravings. The Renaissance. Revolutions in the arts in Europe 1400-1530 temporary exhibition offers an entirely different viewpoint on the Louvre’s artworks through the wealth of its route, the diversity and multiple colours of its spaces, in complete contrast to the Galerie du Temps and the Pavillon deVerre.»

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaOpening out onto the site and its grounds, the central entrance hall is a large, 3,600 m2 square of glass with fully transparent walls. It is supported by a light structure of narrow pillars. It connects the museum’s two main buildings: the Grande Galerie and the Galerie d’exposition temporaire. It serves as both the museum’s entrance space but also a massive public space for the city. Visitors can enter the hall through three doors (the Lens, Loos-en-Gohelle and Liévin doors) that correspond to the three main entrances to the grounds. The transparency sought for this central space endows the entrance hall with a real public square role that visitors, especially locals, can take ownership of spontaneously and easily. The desire to make the museum space more familiar is reinforced here with cultural services and leisure spaces in the centre of the hall which are easily identified and accessible without having necessarily planned a visit of the collections. Thus from the very beginning, the Louvre-Lens has been designed as a museum that should be « frequented » rather than visited.

Glass bubbles punctuate the general hall space and form the museum’s main reception points: information and tickets, reception room, resource centre, bookstore-shop, café and picnic area and the patrons’ room. A central staircase provides access to the lower level mainly taken up by the museum’s « behind-the-scenes » area. The storage rooms can be seen through a large glass wall that overhangs them and has been designed to make them open to discovery. So often hidden from public view and unknown, in the Louvre-Lens the storage rooms will be visible and indeed visitable. Located in the depths of the museum, they form the hidden part of the iceberg. The majority of conservations work, studies and research are conducted here. In Louvre-Lens, the secret life of the artworks is revealed in order to provide visitors with an insight into the museum’s work and the different professionals involved, such as conservators, restorers and administrators. Entry to the behind-the-scenes area is free of charge. The storage rooms can be visited by appointment, in groups accompanied by a guide. One of the restoration room scan also be visited in small groups.

In particular, the storage rooms hold paintings, sculptures, textiles and graphic documents in addition to a number of archaeological objects recovered during the excavations undertaken by the Louvre between 1983 and 1990. A choice that symbolises the physical and intellectual connection uniting the Louvre-Lens and the Musée du Louvre.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaThe Resource centre at the centre of the Entrance Hall stands as a lively place for spreading and sharing knowledge about the museum world. Open to all, it has been designed as a sort of «toolbox» and place of discovery where both beginners and the experienced, individual visitors and families all have access to the information on how to use the museum: exhibitions, artworks, collections, professions, codes and uses both scientific and cultural are introduced and deciphered here.Visitors can also take part in workshops and training courses, try out new mediation tools, and share their experiences and questions with others through discussions and conferences. Thus, it is a matter of giving everyone the most relevant and most suitable keys to be able to discover, understand and question the museum in all of its many dimensions.

The Resource Centre has a surface area of 800 m2 and is split over two levels.

In the museum entrance hall
The Resource Centre in the entrance hall is deployed over two glass bubbles with a total area of 390 m2. The first bubble was designed to provide an initial approach to the museum and its layout to help audiences to understand museum site and to familiarise themselves with it. The second bubble, which houses the media library and its many resources, offers visitors the chance to further understand their initial discoveries or complete their research. In both of these friendly and comfortable spaces visitors will be accompanied and guided in their endeavours by the Resource Centres’ own staff. The Louvre-Lens’ challenge is to break with the image of the « mausoleum » museum, and instead make people understand that the Louvre is not only an unfathomable and vibrant source of questioning, discovery and plural forms of interpreting the world and the works of humanity, but also a lively place where a wide range of arts and rare skills are performed and where everyone, fans, casual visitors, experts, professionals, parents, children and passer-byes can find satisfaction in their desire to learn or just simply have fun.

Children and families have an area in the first bubble which is entirely dedicated to them, consisting of a «hut» where younger children can socialise the museum world by playing and drawing, while older children explore the resources that are aimed at them.

In the immersive space of the second bubble, the visitor is plunged into the heart of the works through a large format, high definition image projection device. Each work is decrypted in the presence of a mediator from different visual and symbolic perspectives (iconographic analysis) and also from technical (by means of scientific imaging) and archaeological perspectives (3D recontextualisation of the work in its original site).

However, the Resource Centre is also a showcase for books since its media library, located in bubble 2, has a rich documentary collection of 6,000 works, mostly dedicated to the history of art and temporary exhibits, but also to more specific areas such as museum professions and the history of the site and project. Research in the field of museology and new tools of knowledge dissemination will also be present. Resources aimed at young audiences are also an important part of the document collection.

In the basement
The Resource Centre also boasts 400 m2 dedicated to training, meeting museum professionals and discovering the history of art.This professional aspect aimed at educators and researchers as well as mediation professionals is a major asset for the Louvre-Lens, which also intends to thereby offer a genuine platform for experimentation and work to the people who make today’s museums. Overall, this area is home to three training rooms, a large relaxation lounge overlooking the restoration workshops as well as an auditorium and multimedia studio. The latter allows people to be introduced to the uses of digital tools (tablets, cameras, search engines) and to carry out their own research:course of initiation, multimedia documentary files, entertainment media in artistic fields, etc.

A small auditorium with a capacity of 90 seats, which is open not only to art historians, but also to curious people, hosting, alongside scientific conferences related to temporary exhibitions and the Grand Gallery collection, introduction conferences on the history of art, readings, debates and meetings with professionals, researchers, writers, artists and filmmakers who confront, share and enrich the ties between the museum and its audiences.
Featuring an autonomous area, The Stage is a multidisciplinary and modular area of almost 300 seats, equipped with a retractable terrace. The facilities are designed to accommodate a wide range of events related to the exhibitions and activities of the museum: live performances, concerts and other events such as seminars, conferences, readings, film screenings, etc.
The inclusion of The Stage in the direct extension of the exhibition gallery symbolises the dialogue between scheduling live shows and conferences and the works displayed in the museum. Both buildings can communicate to offer a transversal dimension to the journey through the museum. This configuration serves the original operations that accompany the discovery and interpretation of the museum among the general public.
The Stage’s goal is to appeal to all visitors, regardless of their origin and cultural background. It is a question of meeting the expert’s desire to deepen his/her knowledge and offering important support to those who have never been to a museum before. The success currently being enjoyed by the Ecole du Louvre in Lens (highest attendances in the region) promotes the implementation of an ambitious programme of conferences, meetings and art films.

In the evening, it adopts the operating method of a performance venue, whose programming is both accessible and challenging and designed with the interests of the existing regional offering in mind. Collaborations with other museums and cultural institutions in the region are also initiated. In this perspective, nearby creation facilities are obvious partners. Co-productions are also conducted on a Euro-regional and international scale, particularly with major artistic training institutions.
Far from the clichés of certain archaic attitudes, today’s museums are modern organisations, established in their time, that appeal to almost all professions and skills, the most traditional and the most innovative alike. These places are becoming more and more open and transparent, as the understanding of works and their charm also requires knowledge of their private life.
So instead of hiding behind the scenes (storage and technical areas), the Louvre-Lens makes all of its aspects visible: visible and accessible collections, restoration of works in public, etc. By insisting on transparency and openness, the museum enhances the activities and professions that compose it.

The collection of works of art is at the heart of the programme to open the backstage areas of the museum to the public due to its attraction and symbolic value. The project is ambitious (a real collection and not a reconstruction for expographic purposes, conservators at work, explications from specialist mediators, meetings with professionals from all guilds), innovative (virtual tools accompanying actual tools to provide further knowledge and context) and original in the relationship that it establishes between the collection and the audience, which is unique in this form in France. However, due to constraints relating to conservation and security, the collections cannot become a permanent visitor area. Visits are restricted to pre- registered groups.

Any visitors that cannot enter the collections and directly see the objects may go to a freely available discovery area which offers both a view of the collections and a virtual tour. This new area, adjacent to the collections, gives a better understanding of what a museum is like today and the chance to discover the «secret life» of the works through meeting the men and women of the museum. It is a real place of exchange between visitors and professionals.
As in all major international museums, visitors to the Louvre-Lens can experience multiple forms of art in the museum grounds, at the heart of the collections and in The Stage area. Everyone can thus approach the aesthetic issues of yesterday and today in a transversal way thanks to inventive and insightful interactions with dance, music, theatre and new stage forms.

Festivals for younger audiences, gourmet meetings and popular music will take over The Stage and grounds in the summertime. The cultural activities organised in the landscaped grounds promote accessibility and the opening of the museum to as many people as possible during large concerts and outdoor screenings. The poetic associations between popular culture and artistic creation will be emphasised to arouse the interest of visitors and to encourage local audiences to return through a customised, varied and renewed package.
The Louvre-Lens museum will open its doors at night, until 10 pm, on the first Friday of every month from September to June, thereby giving visitors the chance to see the museum differently. Displaced in the exhibition rooms, animations will resonate or counterpoint the sculptures, paintings, art objects and concepts presented in the exhibitions.
They are also the opportunity to give the partners of the museum’s cultural and educational circles their rightful place.

Special evenings will animate the season: in January, with the Renaissance. Revolution in the arts in Europe 1400-1530 and Rabelais exhibitions, in April with the Freedom Guiding the People and in June through the Rubens and Europe exhibition.
The Louvre-Lens audience policy is at the heart of the museum’s cultural project to become an area of life and discovery for all in which written, human and multimedia mediation is a priority. Experts, aesthetes but also those who are less familiar with museum practices should feel completely welcomed and respected in their level of approach through the plurality of offers, levels of mediation and media for accessing the knowledge and works of the Louvre.


The Louvre-Lens is very keen to welcome all audiences (individuals, families, school groups, tourists, professionals, older visitors, disadvantaged groups or persons with disabilities), as accessibility is a strategic issue for the institution. By meeting expectations in terms of comfort, welcoming and services for visitors, the reception policy will promote attractiveness, ownership of the site, diversification of audiences and visitor loyalty.
A special tariff policy has therefore been implemented. The Grande Gallery and the Glass Pavilion are free, and shall remain so throughout the first year of opening. All the other areas of the museum can be visited without an entrance ticket. Only the temporary exhibition gallery is subject to charges, with a full price entrance fee of 9 euros.
Clear and varied information devices are put in place to make the various cultural offerings legible. A lounge is accessible in the entrance hall to enable visitors to plan their visit. Information and communication devices are available in three languages (French, English and Dutch).
The challenge is to make the Louvre-Lens physically, socially and intellectually accessible: the Louvre-Lens teams have thought of particular ways to make the labels more understandable by adapting the titles of works. The Discophoros will therefore be entitled Athlete holding a discus, Roman copy of a bronze discophoros.

Listening and teaching

The Louvre-Lens mediation insists on the education of looking and learning about works of art in a logic of exchange and sharing.

In the exhibition areas, mediators, committed to everyone discovering at their own pace and keen to create links at any moment, meet guests for moments of personalised dialogue. All mediation devices are implemented be they written or multimedia aids, or even screenings, to give the visitor as much as possible from the experience. This mediation is supplemented by visit-workshops developed especially for schools or by multimedia guides suggesting thematic routes, different points of view on a history of art topic and proposing insights.

The Louvre-Lens has 6 educational workshop areas designed to introduce visitors to the basic facts about artistic creation by allowing them to come into direct contact with practices, techniques, tools and concretely realise an object, regardless of its medium: drawing, painting, sculpture, multimedia, etc.
Training courses, conducted in dedicated areas are available to teachers and professionals. These people can then pass on ownership of the museum and its exhibitions.

The multimedia guide developed by the Louvre-Lens and the ON SITu company replaces conventional audio guides to become a truly participatory visit aid. Accessible to all at no extra cost, the multimedia guide comes in the form of new generation mobile phone (smartphone) and provides the visitor with an intuitive user interface (touch).Visitors are thus accompanied on their visit by commentaries on works by curators or animations featuring detailed views of a selection of works to give a different reading. The purpose of these animations is to create an exchange on the works without distorting the direct relationship. The guide also aims to contribute to the «continuum» of the visit by giving visitors the opportunity to create a personal space on the Louvre-Lens Internet portal and save the route of their visit. Visitors can then look back at the route that they took and add further resources from the Internet portal.
Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue NishizawaThe Louvre-Lens museum designed by Japanese architecture agency SANAA could not locate in this leafy setting without it also being transformed. The Nord-Pas de Calais Region has seized the opportunity of the arrival of the Louvre-Lens to improve the image and attractiveness of the are, and profoundly change the way people live in Lens and surrounding area. To do this, in 2009 the region created the association Euralens, chaired by Daniel Percheron, the President of the Nord-Pas de Calais Region, and modelled on Euralille. It is a vast planning operation which doesn’t end around the immediate Louvre-Lens are, but extends over 1600 hectares.

Euralens aims to define and implement a large urban and landscape development project that respects the history of the Mining region.

The priority are is the one around the museum-park, to better organise access. It plans to use the rail network as a link in the green infrastructure, to create a «green platform» to the museum. In addition to the paths in former mining railways, bridges and carparks have been built.

The Euralens project aims to create a new and attractive entity and revitalise the area, working with the towns surrounding the Louvres-Lens (Lens, Liévin and Loos-en-Gohelle) and their 75,000 inhabitants.

This process applies on a new scale, a wider scope or «heart of the city» approach that includes the Lens-Liévin, Hénin-Carvin and Artois Comm (Béthune-Bruay) conurbations, for a total of 576,000 inhabitants.
The project is explicitly inspired by the experiences gained in other European countries. In Bilbao, in the Spanish Basque Country, Liverpool as well as the Ruhr are in Germany (operation IBA Enscher Park). These former difficult industrial or mining areas are now attractive territories.

The team made up of Michel Desvigne and architect Christian de Portzamparc has been chosen. These two nationally and internationally renowned personalities offer a new vision of mining towns, transformed into « great garden city «. They view the area as an archipelago made up of small islands: the mining towns. The aim is to link and unite them, while keeping the green areas between. They have planned to extend the current green infrastructure and develop it, inspired by American parks. The team intends Euralens to become a reference in individual housing transformation in France.
Several cities were considered in 2003 at the time the Louvre decentralization project came into being, including Arras, Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Valenciennes, Amiens and Béthune.

Lens was chosen because of the it has numerous advantages in hosting this type of project:
  • a 20 hectares site that was available in the heart of the town and near the train station
  • a territorial development project, EURALENS, incorporating Louvre- Lens, which will be its bridgehead and will define its central character
  • a strategicgeographical location in the heart of Europe
  • an area with 14 million inhabitants residing within a radius of 200 kilometers
  • a city with TGV service
  • the political will to bet on the cultural aspects to establish the reputation and economic development of the city.
  • Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue Nishizawa27 May, 2003: the Minister of Culture and Communication, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, puts out an appeal for support in decentralizing the major Parisian cultural institutions.

  • November 2003 : Guy Delcourt, Mayor of Lens, declares the city’s candidacy for hosting an annex of the Louvre. Arras, Calais, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Valenciennes and Amiens also submit their candidacy. Béthune, candidate for a period, ultimately withdrew.

  • July 2004: a delegation led by the Minister for Culture and Communications, Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, and the President and Director of the Louvre, Henri Loyrette, visit the sites of the six candidate cities.

  • 29 November 2004: The Prime Minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, designates Lens as the city to receive the new Louvre.

  • 21 January, 2005: Daniel Percheron, President of the Nord-Pas de Calais Region, principal and primary financier for the future museum, opens an international architectural design competition

  • 29 April 2005 : 6 architects are short-listed from a field of 124 applicant firms.

  • 12 May, 2005: the French Government, the Louvre Museum, the Region and the other municipalities sign a protocol agreement setting the technical, legal and financial terms for the new museum.

  • 26 September, 2005: following review by the selection board of the six designs submitted, the Nord-Pas de Calais Region designates the firms SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa), Imrey Culbert (Célia Imrey and Tim Culbert) and Catherine Mosbach as winning bidders.

  • 11 April 2006: together with the Minister of Culture and Communication, Henri Loyrette, President and Director of the Louvre Museum, hosts elected officials from Nord-Pas de Calais at the Louvre museum.

  • 21 May, 2007: the preliminary design of the p
    roject submitted by the firms SANAA (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa), Imrey Culbert (Célia Imrey and Tim Culbert) and Catherine Mosbach is approved by the Regional Council and all partners in the project.

  • 15 October, 2007: the first Louvre-Lens Belfry opens in Louvroil, sponsored by the Nord-Pas de Calais region, with the support of the Louvre, under the theme «The Magic of Writing». Spring 2008: The second Belfry exhibition of the Louvre-Lens is organized at Bruay-la- Buissière, under the theme «Horizon Dreams». The exhibition features the works of Turner.

  • June 2008: first calls for tender to build the museum.

  • 24 September, 2008: a special joint Louvre-Lens meeting is held of the Regional Council of Nord-Pas de Calais and of the Economic and Social Council, in the presence of the partners and actors involved. The Louvre presents the scientific and cultural project of the future museum at these meetings.

  • 21 November 2008: the founding meeting of Euralens is held at the Lens Hôtel de Ville with all potential partners of the project.

  • 30 January, 2009: the constituent General Meeting of the Euralens association is held. March, 2009: SANAA, lead contractor of the project management consortium, contracts the museography design for the Louvre-Lens to Studio Adrien Gardère. April 2009: a new round of calls for tender to build the museum is initiated.

  • 5 October, 2009: the Standing Commission of the Regional Council of Nord-Pas de Calais authorizes signing of contracts with the successful bidder companies. 16 November 2009: work is begun at the site.

  • 4 December, 2009: cornerstone ceremony and the opening of the Project Information Center for greeting visitors, information and consultation regarding the museum, designed by SANAA and Studio Adrien Gardère.

  • 2010-2012: construction of the museum.The Project Information Center was used to monitor construction progress and obtain further information about the museum. 3 December, 2010: creation of the Public Establishment for Cultural Cooperation (Etablissement Public de Coopération Culturelle - EPCC).

  • 28 March, 2011: appointment of Xavier Dectot as Director of the Public Establishment of the Louvre-Lens.

  • 4 December, 2012: official inauguration of the Louvre-Lens.

  • 12 December, 2012: opening of the Louvre-Lens to the general public.

[Japanese Collection] Episode 6: Louvres-Lens by SANAA - 2012 from Vincent HECHT [I] on Vimeo.

reinforced concrete, steel, glass, aluminium

Exterior finish

Room 1, 2, 4 - Aluminum honeycomb panel t=2+20+1mm + insulation t=140mm + concrete t=280mm
Room 3, 4 - Double glazing glass 10+(8+8) mm
Room 5 - Laminated glass 6+6mm + ventilation space + double glazing glass 10+(8+8) mm

Room 1 - Membrane waterproofing t=10mm + polyurethane insulation t=150mm + vapor barrier t=5mm + concrete t=150mm
Room 2, 4 - Sunshade grille + double glazing glass sky-light 10+ (8+8) mm + aluminium insulation panels t =3+103+102mm
Room 3, 5 - Kalzip

France [France]
Rue Paul Bert, rue Georges Bernanos
Museums and buildings for exhibitions
Art museums

Landscape architecture
Public parks
Buildings for offices and professional practises
Commercial buildings
Bars, cafeterias
Buildings for recreational activities
Auditoriums and music centres
2005 - 2009     project winner of competition
2009 - 2012
"European SANAA / Made in Japan", Casabella 823, marzo/march 2013, pp. 72-105, 116-118
"Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA e Imrey Culbert. Musée du Louvre-Lens, Lens, Pas-de-Calais, Francia", Casabella 823, marzo/march 2013, pp. 72-91, 116-118 (72-105, 116-118)
Federico Bucci, "Un Louvre tra le miniere abbandonate / A louvre amidst abandoned mines", Casabella 823, marzo/march 2013, pp. 72-87, 116-118 (72-105, 116-118)
Francesco Dal Co, "Le “cattedrali” del XX secolo e l’intrattenimento museale", Casabella 823, marzo/march 2013, pp. 88-91, 116-118 (72-105, 116-118)
SANAA, Louvre Lens, Bauwelt"Die Zukunft des Louvre / The future of the Louvre", Bauwelt 5/2013, 25 januar/january 2013, pp. 14-33
Sebastian Redecke, "Louvre-Dependance. Louvre, leicht und kompakt / Louvre Lens, Nord-Pas de Calais", Bauwelt 5/2013, 25 januar/january 2013, pp. 20-31 (14-33)
"Louvre-Lens: Lens exploite sa veine artistique / Lens develops its artistic vein", L'Architecture d'Aujourd'hui 388, mars/march 2012, pp. 76-87
"Le Louvre Lens. Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa SANAA", Moniteur Architecture AMC 209, octobre/october 2011, pp. 20-21
"Louvre-Lens, Lens, France. Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa SANAA", JA. The Japan Architect 83, autumn 2011 [Emergent spatial frames], pp. 50-57
Aleksandr Bierig, "Louvre annex rises on former mining site. Kazuyo Sejima & Ryue Nishizawa SANAA", Architectural Record 7/2010, july 2010, p. 30
"Le Louvre-Lens: carnet de details / Louvre gallery in Lens: sketchbook of details", Moniteur Architecture AMC 195, march/mars 2010, pp. 40-44
"Winning design for the Louvre Lens competition by Kazuyi Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA", A+U. Architecture and Urbanisme 423, december 2005, pp. 3-4
Christophe Hespel, "Une antenne du Louvre a Lens / Louvre outpost, Lens. Winning architects: Sanaa (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa)", Moniteur Architecture AMC 156, novembre/november 2005, pp. 25-32
€ 150,000,000
total: sq.m. 28,000
exhibition spaces: sq.m. 7,000
atelier, auditorium, other spaces: sq.m. 6,000
hall: sq.m.. 36,000

park: ha. 20
gardens: ha. 4
lawns: 1 ha
Trees: 6,000
Shrubbery: 26,000
Perennial plants: 7,000

lifts: 8
elevators: 3
dumbwaiters: 2
SAPS / Sasaki and Partners
Mosbach Paysagistes, Catherine Mosbach
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA
Associate designers
Tim Culbert + Celia Imrey / IMREY CULBERT, Catherine Mosbach
Project architect
Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa / SANAA
Design team
Kazuyo Sejima, Ryue Nishizawa, Yumiko Yamada, Yoshitaka Tanase, Louis-Antoine Grégo, Rikiya Yamamoto, Kohji Yoshida, Lucy Styles, Erika Hidaka, Nobuhiro Kitazawa, Bob Van den Brande, Arrate Arizaga Villalba, Guillaume Choplain, Osamu Kato, Naoto Noguchi, Shohei Yoshida, Takashige Yamashita, Takashi Suo, Ichio Matsuzawa, Andreas Krawczyk, Angela Pang, Jonas Elding, Sam Chermayeff, Jeanne-Francois Fischer, Sophie Shiraishi
Landscape design
Mosbach Paysagistes
Catherine Mosbach, Atelier 122, Delphine Elie, Jessica Gramcko, Etienne Haller, Jennifer Mui, Solène Leray, Pauline Rabin Le Gall, Marie Ross, Jean-Francois Seaju, Eiko Tomura

Construction supervision:
Atelier LD
Julio Da Silva, Julien Simenel, Marie-Elisabeth Austry
Museum project
Studio Adrien Gardère
Adrien Gardère, Lucie Dorel, Mathieu Muin

Imrey Culbert [2006-2008]
Celia Imrey, Tim Culbert, Celine Bounameaux, Caroline Schweyer, Analia Garcia Ramirez, Lucia Cappannini, Pablo Olveida, Greta Hansen, Andre Iglitis, Eve MacDougall, William Ngo, Ted Baab, Craig Intinarelli
Executive architect
Extra Muros
Michel Lévi, Antoine Saubot, Mathilde Bedu, Delphine Isart, Valérie Le Berre, Takako Sugi, Naori Yamazoe, Dimitri Feve, Emmanuel Flament, Julien Gervais, Perre Keszler, Manuel Martins, Camille Spender

Antoine Belin
Antoine Belin, Joëlle Martin, Séverine Estela, Noémi Canlers
Quantity surveyor
Bureau Michel Forgue
Michel Forgue, Bernard Delmas, Hakima Hamaïdia, Elie Durand
Betom Ingénierie
Gérard Parfait, Benoit Leclercq, Didier Maurice Gille Gambert
Climate control (HVAC)
Betom Ingénierie
Gille Gambert
Electrical engineer
Betom Ingénierie
Sylvain Liebart, Alain Raux
Hydraulic engineer
Betom Ingénierie
Eddie Rakotoarisoa
Structural consultant
SAPS / Sasaki and Partners
Mutsuro Sasaki, Ayumi Isozaki

Concrete structures:
Betom Ingénierie
Cedric Leullier

Metal structures:
Bollinger + Grohmann Sarl
Klaas de Rycke, Thomas Ekwal, David Fabié, Katrin Helfer, Daniel Pfanner, Pierre-Arnaud Voutay, Agnes Weilandt
Facades consultant
Bollinger + Grohmann Sarl
Klaas de Rycke, Thomas Ekwal, David Fabié, Daniel Pfanner, Pierre-Arnaud Voutay, Agnes Weilandt, Arnauld de Bussierre
Lighting engineer
Arup Lighting
Jeff Shaw, Phillip Greenup
Energetic plants
Matthias Schuler, Arnaud Billard
Penicaud Architcture Environment
Hubert Penicaud, Amanda Johnson
Acoustical consultant
Avel Acoustique
Jérôme Falala
Safety coordination
Groupe Casso
Bruno Melchior, Michel Walkowiak
Graphics and signage
Dimitri Bruni, Ludovic Varone
Artistic and multimedia installations
Julien Roger, Fabien Durand
Construction management
Jean-Luc Deprez, Christophe Desaunay, Jean Bernier, Alice Haesaert, Jean-Marc Bouquet

Michel Derbesse, Guy Hery, Morgan Lagadec
EGIS Bâtiment Management
Philippe Laporte, Nicolas Vanbelle, Gérald Toilliez

Jacques Dubois
Louvre Museum
Images: Iwan Baan, Hisao Suzuki, Cyrille Thomas
© SANAA / Kazuyo Sejima et Ryue Nishizawa - IMREY CULBERT / Celia Imrey et Tim Culbert - MOSBACH PAYSAGISTE / Catherine Mosbach - Studio Adrien Gardère
Texts: Musée du Louvre-Lens and authors
Courtesy of Musée du Louvre-Lens

Louvre-Lens SANAA Kazuyo Sejima Ryue Nishizawa

If you haven't already clicked on the photo strip at the top of the page, for the gallery of photos [24 images] and drawings [61 images], enter here
Contacts    Copyright © 2004 - 2024 MONOSTUDIO | ARCHITECTOUR.NET
| Disclaimer | Conditions of use | Credits |