The Louvre Museum in Paris stopped admitting visitors on the afternoon of Thursday, 2 June due to the threat of flooding from the Seine River, which it borders. The museum, along with several other major cultural sites in Paris, will remain closed at least until Tuesday, 7 June, according to an official statement. The Seine's level exceeded 5m when the decision was made to close, and the city centre has been placed on an orange-level flood alert after days of rain.
An internal email by the Louvre's director Jean-Luc Martinez to the museum's staff, obtained by Reuters, said: "The museum will remain closed to the public tomorrow [3 June] out of precaution: there is no danger to the public or our staff but will allow us to calmly remove certain art collections should it be necessary." The Louvre has had an official flood plan in place since 2002, which includes evacuating works from the reserves of around 250,000 stored underground, and according to a museum statement, staff began moving works on higher floors on 2 June. The director of the museum's department of Islamic Art, Yannick Lintz, tweeted an image of an emptied-out gallery in the lower-level Islamic Arts pavilion. The museum carried out a flood evacuation drill in March.
The Orsay Museum on the opposite bank of the Seine has also put an emergency plan to evacuate works into place. It closed early on 2 June at 6pm and has tweeted that it will not reopen before Tuesday. The nearby Musée de l'Orangerie will be closed on the morning of Saturday, 4 June "as a preventative measure", an official statement said. The Musée du Quai Branly in Paris, which celebrates its tenth anniversary this month and is also located along the Seine, has been monitoring the situation but did not have plans to close as of Thursday, the museum's communication department confirmed to the Nouvel Observateur.
The last major flood in the French capital was in 1910 and lasted over a month, with the Seine reaching a level of 8.5m, which Paris is currently "far from", according to Fran?ois Duquesne, the head of Vigicrues, the national agency that monitors water levels. Speaking to the news network France Info on 3 June, he predicted that the level would rise to 5.6m overnight. France, southern Germany and Austria have experienced severe flooding this week, and there have been multiple deaths reported.
In the Seine-et-Marne region east of Paris-currently on red alert for flooding-the cultural complex Les Moulins, run by the artists Lucy and Jorge Orta, has suffered severe damage. An email from Lucy Orta said the complex's "studios and warehouse were under 40cm of water and many artworks [were] drenched" after the Grand Morin River flooded its banks on the evening of 31 May.
?The Art Newspaper