The Louvre Museum hosts 16 works of art, including precious Byzantine icons from Kiev, to protect them from the war in Ukraine, we learned Wednesday from its president. "From the beginning of the war, like other major museum institutions, our concern was to see how to support our Ukrainian colleagues. In the autumn, faced with the intensity of the conflict, we decided on this rescue," Laurence des Cars told AFP, confirming information from the newspaper Le Monde.
It is little in an ocean of sadness and desolation but it is quite a symbol, she added, aware of the importance of saving this millennial heritage in the heart of Europe and the need to transmit it.
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Among these works, whose evacuation was led by the world's largest museum: five Byzantine icons from the Bohdan Museum and Varvara Khanenko, Kiev's National Museum of Arts. They will be exposed to the public from June 14 until November 6, Laurence des Cars told AFP.
Eleven other works, "among the most emblematic and fragile" of the Ukrainian museum, selected for a scientific collaboration on the restoration of the works at the Louvre, will be housed in the reserves, detailed the Louvre.
At the end of October 2022, Laurence des Cars received a Ukrainian delegation of museum representatives, including the director of the Khanenko Museum, at a time when UNESCO had identified 240 sites damaged by the war. The inventory of the Ukrainian Ministry of Culture reported 468 damaged, destroyed or damaged cultural sites, including 35 museums.
A rocket fell in early October near the Khanenko Museum, blowing out the windows. With the exception of large paintings, the works of art had for the majority been "moved to the reserves, where they are subject to temperature variations and power cuts, which worry our counterparts," said Laurence des Cars.
The rescue operation of the 16 selected works, financially supported by the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas, was officially recorded during a visit to Ukraine by the Minister of Culture, Rima Abdul Malak, in February and the works were escorted militarily via Poland and Germany in early May.
Entitled At the Origins of the Sacred Image, the exhibition of Byzantine icons will prefigure the opening in 2027 of a new Department of Arts of Byzantium and Christianity in the East.