Dear Minister, Dear Minister, Dear Mr Deputy Minister, Dear Deputy Minister, Dear Mr President of the Regional Council Dear Mr President of the General Council Dear Mr President of the Community Lens-Geneva Dear Mr President of the Henin Metropolitan CommunityCarvinMonsieur le Président-directeur général du Musée du LOUVREMessieurs les Présidents et DirecteursMesdames, Messieurs,When I came here to LENS, to lay this first stone of the new LOUVREin the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, I remembered a scene of GOETHE, in the Elective Affinities, which recounts precisely a ceremony of laying the first stone and in which a mason gives a kind of discourse of the method on the best way to deconstruct:

three main points, without which there is no good construction
possible. The first is the choice of a suitable location, the
second the solidity of the foundations, the third the perfection of the execution
the details and the set”. Well, I think the foundation stone of
Louvre-Lens that we will pose together responds well to these
First and foremost, according to GOETHE:
If the city of LENS was chosen, 5 years ago almost to the day, among
6 candidate cities, this is good because it is an ideal site in all
Because LENS is a symbol site. This city is for us all, by
the epic story of the mining industry. She was one of the
pioneers and one of the pillars of the French industrial revolution.
LENS is, as you know, the great myth of the mine which is always
living in our memories, this form of work that was also a
manner of sacrifice, from which all of France benefited. And, as if it were not
not enough, you all know the history of industrial cities,
most advanced cities. By a truly dramatic reversal,
as soon as modernity changes skin, they are the first to suffer
the consequences.

Yes, the location is well chosen, and the symbol is strong, to graft here
even this luxury of beauty from one of the most prestigious museums of the
Location well chosen, I said, and even in its most localized
It is on an old mine floor that the
most famous museum of France with its mine of masterpieces admired
all over the world, with this share of dream and light that are
as a response to the night of old.
But the location is not only worth by memory and by the
symbol, but also and above all the "promises of happiness" that he carries,
to use the expression STENDHAL describes beauty.
LENS is the ideal place for this new LOUVRE because it is located in
crossroads. It is not only at the crossroads of the major
LILLE and ARRAS, but also, on a larger scale,
at the crossroads of Europe, at the heart of a Euroregion where
cultural is an asset. Again, this is a future response to
history: because this situation of European confluence, which was once
another cause of suffering in these two world wars that
went through LENS and even settled there, is obviously today
its strength and attractiveness in the European peace area. And it
is obvious that the LOUVRE and its treasures will now attract our friends
English, Belgian, Dutch, our German friends too. They will be
more tempted to include LENS in their French itineraries.
The second requirement exalted by GOETHE is that a construction
must be based on SOLID FOUNDATIONS. And again, this project
seems exemplary.
I’m not just talking about, of course, the real FOUNDATIONS and
and this first stone that we will modestly lay
today. I also want to talk about the FOUNDATIONS that inspired this
project. And the first of them is this ideal that inspires me with a culture
not only for all, but, as I like to say, a culture for
everyone. For everyone, this would mean that we remain in Paris and that
we wait for "all" to come to visit our museums… And then it is
easy to wonder that it is always the same who push the
doors. For what is offered uniformly "for all" often ends,
for a few, for a handful of happy few. That would be
too simple!
For "everyone", this means that the State and its public institutions
know how to do half the way when it is necessary. This means
say that everyone, wherever he is, wherever he comes from, in the wealth of his
difference, has a chance to meet the best.
But here at LENS, the numerous signatures of the guestbooks have it amply
demonstrated, the cultural demand was very strong and the feeling of a
lack was obvious. I emphasize that this is not a process
voluntarist of demand creation, of a kind of "political
Keynesian revival" adapted to the culture. This is really about
meet a need, not just a need.
Another excellent principle on which this project is based, its other
the boldness and sense of innovation that have driven the foundation
old museum of France, strong enough and sure enough of itself to
reinvent and go in search of new formulas. After ABU-DHABI and
the distant territories, this great national institution wanted to go to
in front of its regional audiences. And of course, it’s not about,
as it is sometimes read, from an "antenna", which seems to me rather belong
to the world of espionage than to the world of museums! This is not about
a copy or reply, but a place of provision
masterpieces from the collections of the LOUVRE. And when we know at what
choice, order and sorting are the very functions of taste, I do not
doubt not that this LOUVRE-LENS draws very quickly its own
personality, in agreement with the "mother house", but without
innovative doubt for it, by a return effect that is likely
hope. It will certainly be a mediator of
like so many other museums, but with this
originality of being the gateway to a large national museum.
It’s an unusual way, and I’m sure it will go to school, and I want it for
proof the Centre Pompidou de Metz, to break the gangue of intimidation
social of culture.
This is, in my view, an intelligent way of amplifying and modernising the
decentralization policy that has continued to be that of our department
Culture since its creation just 50 years ago.
Today, in the age of the Internet, one might think that simply digitizing
our works to offer access to everyone. But in reality – and you know
how much I am in favour of digitizing our cultural content,
that I have identified as a key issue in my mandate – the
digital does not, of course, lose its presence. Digital
is a showcase, a landmark, an invitation to travel and
discovery, but nothing replaces or will replace direct presence
with masterpieces. This is why the LOUVRE-LENS is not a
showcase, but a museum in its own right, that is to say a high meeting place
with works, in their very materiality, this mysterious
materiality of pictorial works.
This is why the LOUVRE-LENS is not there to open on the LOUVREPARIS,
but to make the city of LENS shine, I said a word about it all to
time. It is the first foundation of a major development issue
economic development through culture. We know
now – the recent Avignon Forum on Economy and Culture is coming
yet to show it with force – that culture plays every day a
more central and crucial role in our modern economies, because
that it creates the quality of life that attracts and sets, and that is an element
of the city’s ecology. The LOUVRE-LENS follows this logic
that the construction of a tramway will confirm. And I am convinced
that this museum will be the starting point of a
strong economic but cultural renewal of the whole city,
that it will create a call for creativity and lead the city to follow
developments comparable to those of LIVERPOOL or BILBAO.
All this is also possible because the best foundation has been
the partnership. I would like to thank warmly: the
Nord-Pas-de-Calais region, the department of Pas-de-Calais, the
Community and the Community of Municipalities,
and this is very important, the European Union and several companies
sponsors who have partnered with this development and
valuation, in particular VEOLIA, NEXANS, CREDIT AGRICOLE
NORD, AUCHAN… Without forgetting, of course, the support of the State, the
Ministry of Culture and Communication. My colleague from
government Valérie LETARD was, more than once, the ambassador of
his region to his government colleagues and I thank him for that
also very sincerely.
An ideal place and solid foundations: the first two requirements of the
GOETHE bricklayer are thus fully fulfilled. The third, you the
know, it was A PERFECT ACHIEVEMENT, we will of course
wait for the completion of the work in just over 2 years, in 2012, but I have
hope that the Japanese teams will bring the
they promised us, and which, in their
simplicity, seems to me the perfect image of a culture that knows how to find the
way of each.
So that’s what I wanted to say to you. I’m very moved and very happy to
to lay this foundation stone which is both a point of completion and a
starting point and impatient waiting.
I am sure that this project is based on the best principles
and especially on the expectation of the Lens public will build, everywhere in the city,
in the region and the Euroregion, the new elective affinities
will not only build the culture, but the society of tomorrow.
Thank you.