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The lobby of the Louvre (photo by daryl_mitchell/Flickr)

On Thursday about 100 peeved archaeologists took over the lobby of the Louvre in Paris, blocking the ticket booths for nearly five hours and allowing visitors to enter the museum without paying admission.

The protesters were members of CGT-Sud-FSU-CNT, a coalition of unions representing cultural workers. They were all preventative archaeologists, who are brought in to investigate construction sites to ensure that any remaining artifacts are safely unearthed and cared for, and that no vestiges are destroyed.

A sign on a Louvre ticket booth put up by protesting archaeologists (photo courtesy CGT-Sud-FSU-CNT, via cgt-culture.fr)

Though they are public sector workers, since the passage of a law in 2003 they have been forced to compete for job sites with private enterprises, a situation they say has greatly affected the quality of the archaeological work being done. Though initial diagnostics at construction sites must still be done by workers from the National Institute for Preventative Archaeological Research, the actual digs can now be carried out by private companies.

“Their arrival has created an imbalance in research,” Thomas Bouquin, a member of the union, told France TV Info. “They don’t share their findings and have no obligation to serve the public.”

The protesters are demanding that preventative archaeology no longer be subject to the 2003 law. They chose the sunken Louvre lobby beneath I.M. Pei’s glass pyramid and the Cour Napoléon because it was the site of a major preventative archaeology project when the museum expanded in the 1980s.

A statement posted on the website of the SGPA-CGT-Culture explained:

This February 5, more than 100 archaeologists of the preventative archaeological public service occupied the Louvre museum and conducted a free admission operation for nearly five hours. The archaeologists chose this site because it is emblematic in the history of French preventative archaeology (the excavation of the Cour Napoléon, the Cour Carrée, and the Jardins du Carrousel from 1983 to 1990 that forged the development of this profession) to denounce the catastrophic situation into which their discipline has been plunged.

According to France TV Info, the museum’s initial response to the protest was to block the entrances, but it eventually decided to allow visitors to enter for free. Ordinarily, admission to the Louvre costs €12 (~$13.60) for the permanent collection and €16 (~$18.10) for all temporary and permanent exhibitions. The institution offers free admission to its permanent collection on the first Sunday of every month between October and March.

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Benjamin Sutton

Benjamin Sutton is an art critic, journalist, and curator who lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn. His articles on public art, artist documentaries, the tedium of art fairs, James Franco's obsession with Cindy...

7 replies on “Angered Archaeologists Allow Thousands to Enter the Louvre for Free”

  1. “Their arrival has created an imbalance in research,” Thomas Bouquin, a member of the union, told France TV Info. “They don’t share their findings and have no obligation to serve the public.” key sentence

  2. They live in a nationalized archeology. I wonder which kind of private companies they are fighting against: construction companies with no skill and no interest in archaeological matters, or well organised archeological teams structured as enterprises, made by archaeologists and owned and directed by archaeologists?
    Companies do not share their findings and have no obligation to serve the public ?
    Maybe as contractors such companies have the duty (and contract obligation) to consign everything to the eritage office (who will be responsable of sientific an democratic trasparency) and not to scatter around the web. And maybe companies have the obligation to do their job properly.
    Maybe the protesters are right when they demand that preventative archaeology no longer be subject to the nationalisation 2003 law.

  3. Great we get even less for the money. Capitalism has its place but its a bad place to go for everything. There are reason why its best to also have institutions that our taxes pay for to keep society running. Since the sheeple here probably will not get it, I propose we outsource the military and police force should work just fine.

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