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MUSEUM

Louvre satellite opens amid slag heaps

The Louvre museum opened a new satellite branch among the slag heaps of a former mining town on Tuesday in a bid to bring high culture and visitors to one of France's poorest areas.

Louvre satellite opens amid slag heaps
View of one of the buildings at the Louvre-Lens (Photo: Philippe Huguen/AFP)

Greeted by a group of former miners in overalls and hardhats, President François Hollande inaugurated the Japanese-designed glass and
polished-aluminium branch of the Louvre in the northern city of Lens.

Officials hope the museum, set to host masterpieces by Delacroix and Raphael for its first year, will help revive a region blighted by the closure of its last coal mines 20 years ago and with unemployment at a stubbornly high 16 percent.

"We know that a museum does not bring spring," regional council chief Daniel Percheron said.

"But it is a sign at least of the end of winter."

Just one hour by train from Paris, the Louvre-Lens 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.

The 150-million-euro ($196-million) project was 60 percent financed by regional authorities in the Nord-Pas-De-Calais region, on the English Channel and the border with Belgium.

The museum's five sober buildings were intended by Japanese architectural firm Sanaa to blend into the former industrial site, with the rail tracks that once linked its pits turned into access roads.

From within its giant glass cube entrance hall, visitors can see the enormous slag heaps at Loos-en-Gohelle, the largest in Europe.
 
For its first five years, the museum's central gallery will showcase 200 works spanning from Antiquity to 1850.

The museum will open its doors to the public for the first time on December 14th.

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TOURISM

New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

IN DETAIL: When do France’s top tourist sites reopen?

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