The Louvre Museum in Paris is making plans to build a second venue in the unlikely Northern French city of Lens. This city, once devastated by World War I, then again by World War II, and more recently by the collapse of the coal mining industry in 1986, will soon boast of a new sleek glass-and-aluminum building designed by Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of the Japanese-based architecture firm SANAA.
The new museum will showcase hundreds of the Louvre’s treasures, from Egyptian artifacts and Renaissance paintings to Islamic art, all on loan from Paris. ”This region doesn’t have much, but Lens has a football team and now the Louvre,” said Lucien Laurent, a 72-year-old who started working in the mines at age 14.
The French government hopes that the new museum site will revitalize the city of Lens, as well as spread art to new audiences in other regions outside of Paris. The 150 million euro project ($226 million) is scheduled to open in 2012.