Europe in My Region

If you’ve had a chance to look at my interactive map of EU projects in the Hauts-de-France region, you will have seen that the Louvre-Lens museum received co-financing from Europe. Here’s a spotlight on an extraordinary project.

This is a repost of L’Europe dans ma région : le Musée du Louvre-Lens, originally published in French by Emilie Hochart (@EmHochart, Facebook, LinkedIn), and submitted to the Europe in My Region 2016 blogging competition.


Lens is located in the Pas-de-Calais department in the Hauts-de-France region. The city has almost 33,000 residents and lies at the centre of a triangle formed by three European capitals: Paris, Brussels and London.

Lens experienced a long period of prosperity from the 19th century with the Industrial Revolution, when coal was discovered there. The region suffered particularly badly during the First World War: the Ring of Remembrance, opened in 2014 at the Notre-Dame-de-Lorette international memorial, is testament to that.

The coal industry began to decline in the 1960s, and the last mines closed in 1990, leaving the miners unemployed.

Despite the difficult times, Lens was able to turn to new types of employment, thanks in particular to higher education (the science centre at Artois University, University Institute of Technology, and school of engineering) and a new business development.

In 2012, the mining area of which Lens is a part was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The project

In 2003, the idea of creating a provincial satellite of the world-famous Louvre Museum in Paris was put forward. The application made by the Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional council for Lens was selected in 2004. The first stone of the new museum was laid in 2009, and it opened in 2012.

hochart europrojects louvre lens ue 1 (1)

The total cost of the project was €175 million. It was co-financed as follows:

  • Nord-Pas-de-Calais regional council: €105 million (60%),
  • European Union: €35 million (20%),
  • Pas-de-Calais departmental council: €17.5 million (10%),
  • Lens-Liévin and Lens city local authority: €17.5 million (10%).

The European grant came from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), and more specifically from the operational programme for the Nord-Pas-de-Calais region for the 2007-2013 programming period.

hochart europrojects louvre lens ue 2


The Lens site was chosen to help the region to get back on its feet after the difficult time it had been through. The museum’s aim is to blend in with the area and allow its residents to make it their own.

The establishment of such a large-scale museum is symbolic of a guarantee of access to culture for as many people as possible, mainly within the region. An innovative approach was taken to allow far-flung audiences to enjoy the museum: original layout of the works exhibited and rotation of exhibits, visits suitable for disabled audiences, art discovery workshops in four prisons in the region, “Baby at the museum” initiative etc. From its opening to the end of 2016, access to the Galerie du Temps permanent exhibition is free of charge.

This project also embodies the EU policies of economic, social and territorial cohesion and sustainable development. In the long term, this museum will help to create many jobs and develop business in the area thanks to the visitors expected (over 2 million visitors since it opened in 2012, half of whom were from the region).


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