“François Hollande”

No official opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi by French president

French president François Hollande has been stopped from officially opening the Louvre Abu Dhabi, whose construction has notched up a few technical problems. Its opening has now been postponed until November 2017. Originally, the museum was supposed to open in 2012. Work on the museum’s water basins and large cupola, designed by Jean Nouvel, has raised major obstacles for the project’s completion. The emirate has not however specified the reasons for the opening’s cancellation. François Hollande nonetheless wishes for a symbolic inauguration to be held before France’s next presidential elections in May...

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New funds for threatened world heritage

On 20 September, during a trip to New York, French president François Hollande announced the formation of a $100 million international fund for safeguarding cultural heritage at risk. The president addressed a gathering of benefactors at a speech at the Metropolitan Museum. The fund programme will be launched during the international conference between France and the United Arab Emirates, on 2 and 3 December, coinciding with the launch of the Louvre Abou...

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Audrey Azoulay named Minister of Culture by François Hollande

French president François Hollande has chosen Audrey Azoulay to take over the helm of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, replacing Fleur Pellerin. The former presidential culture counsellor is therefore being given the opportunity to replace her previous supervising minister – a boon for the ex-number two at the Centre National du Cinéma (CNC) who maintains good relationships with the world of culture. Unlike her predecessor, Audrey Azoulay can claim special knowledge about the creative world, namely thanks to her training in film. This appointment comes at a time when the Senate is examining the Pellerin Bill on the “freedom of creation, architecture and heritage”, aiming to establish and guarantee the freedom of creation and to update the protection of...

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Louvre’s Director Responds to Isil Threats With 50-point Plan

Director of the Louvre, Jean-Luc Martinez, has made a 50-point plan in an attempt to protect heritage in areas of conflict. On 17 November, the report was published, commissioned in June by the French President, Francois Hollande, when Islamist extremists destroyed a number of buildings at the ancient site of Palmyra in Syria. After the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November, President Hollande told a Unesco conference on 17 November that France should be thought of as a safe haven for antiquities under threat from Isil. A donation fund was also suggested by Martinez which he believed could “finance re-construction work at Palmyra or undertake research at the Mari archaeological site [in Syria].” The Director proposed both a European database of seized or stolen cultural property and a European Monitoring Centre to combat the illegal trafficking of cultural goods; which is said to represent 20% of Isil’s funding. Martinez believes that increased training for Iraqi and Syrian heritage professionals will be beneficial, following the lead of the UK government who, in October, backed a British Museum in their training of heritage professionals from Iraq in emergency archaeology, so sites could be entered as soon as they were made safe. He added that a memorial is proposed for the Tuileries Gardens in Paris to commemorate “guardians of heritage”, such as the archaeologist Khaled al-Assaad who was murdered in August by Isil after he refused to reveal where antiquities had been removed to for safekeeping.  Earlier this year, the New York-based Association of Art Museum Directors, issued new guidelines, stating that institutions under threat can ask for endangered works to be cared for by member...

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François Hollande wants to create a right of asylum for endangered works

On 17 November 2015, the French president François Hollande declared at the Unesco headquarters, in Paris, that he wishes to create a right of asylum for endangered works. During his speech to the delegates of the 195 states member of ONU at Unesco, François Hollande expressed the determination of France to be actively involved in the preservation of the heritage of humanity. With Jean-Luc Martinez, the director of the Louvre, to whom he asked for a set of concrete proposals on the day of the attack on the Bardo in Tunis, the President of the French Republic wishes to create a right of asylum for endangered works by destruction and the black market. François Hollande thus explains this organized looting: “The terrorist organization Daesh issues permits for excavations, levies taxes on works that will then feed into the global black market, passing through free ports that are havens for stolen goods and money laundering, including in Europe.” For Jean-Luc Martinez, we must create a special status for expatriate works for their safety, while waiting to be returned to their country of origin. In addition, the looting of unknown works must be anticipated and countered by an important work of documentation intended to preserve the memory of sites. These efforts would add to the already colossal measures in place: in Syria, for example, the director of antiquities Maamoun Abdulkarim, managed to protect thousands of objects, even in Palmyra, where 400 sculptures were evacuated before the arrival of...

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