Museums in Paris are being faced with big safety issues these days because of the recent floods due to heavy rainfall over the past few weeks, which made the Seine water level rise for almost five metres and burst some of its banks. Not only did the flood damage the city itself, not to mention the heavy impact on human safety and the loss of human lives, but a great amount of art history is endangered, too. How are Parisian museums fighting the possibility of water damage?
Placed right next to the Seine river, the Louvre is caught up at the frontline of the ’battlefield’ with water. Museum management didn’t want to take chances with what might happen to its priceless art collection, so they have decided to close the museum on Friday, June 3. Thinking that it is better to prevent any possible damage than to calculate material loss afterwards, Louvre officials announced that the whole site will be closed to the public. Opening date isn’t known yet. That doesn’t mean that employees are not going to work, tough. On the contrary, they will have to roll up their sleeves and get down to moving all those art pieces to a safe place. The plan is to move artworks from the underground stores to higher floors in order to keep them safe. Even though the Louvre’s storage space is equipped with waterproof doors and flooding pumps and its officials had previously announced that the art collection wasn’t threatened, the museum changed its statement, as the floods became worse.
The Orsay museum in Paris also closed its doors to public on Friday and moved its art pieces stored underground to a safe place. The Seine’s water level keeps on rising, and the following days are crucial for arranging the safety plans to work effectively. For the museums in Paris, as Paris' deputy mayor Bruno Julliard told the media, there is an automatic process of moving the art pieces stored in the lowest level to the higher ground, when the river rises above 5.5 metres above its normal level. Even though that hasn’t happened yet, hydrologists forecast that the Seine could peak at six metres in central Paris. That is why some of the most endangered museums decided to close their doors until it is safe to re-open. Officials state that the floods might take several weeks to lower.
So far, Parisian floods have forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes and dozens of schools to close. City officials announced that two people got killed due to the floods. Earlier this week the army was also called in to rescue some motorists on a major highway. These floods, however, aren’t the worst that Paris remembers. In 1910, large parts of the French capital were flooded for six weeks. At that time, the river Seine reached its record height of 8.6 metres.
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Featured image: Paris flooding 2016 - Image via Independent.co.uk