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Record rainfall in Paris has caused intense and dangerous flooding of the Seine River to the extent that the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are closing temporarily to safeguard their collections. In a press release, the Louvre announced that it will be closed tomorrow, Friday June 3, so museum employees can move artworks located in flood-prone areas of its buildings to higher floors. Tens of thousands of “reserve” paintings and sculptures currently reside in the museum’s underground vaults, as the Independent reported. Since 2002, Louvre staffers have been required to undergo evacuation training in the event of flooding.
The Musée d’Orsay shuttered early on Thursday due to the still-rising water — which officials say has exceeded normal levels by 16 feet. Like the Louvre, the institution also has flood emergency plans in place; both buildings will remain closed until officials lift the flood alert, currently at “orange,” its second-highest level.
— HardRightTiger (@HardRightTiger) June 2, 2016
According to the Telegraph, this is the second time flooding has forced the Louvre to close its doors, with the first incident dating to the time of the Second World War. Museum staffers have been well aware that the building’s subterranean collection is vulnerable to deluges: the Art Newspaper reported in 2013 that Louvre officials had wanted to establish an off-site storage facility for the very purpose of avoiding damages from flooding, but plans allegedly never took off due to financial uncertainties.
As of press time, the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay are the only two Parisian museums to shut down; other riverside institutions such as the Musée de l’Orangerie, Palais de Tokyo, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville De Paris, and the Musée du Quai Branly have not announced interruptions to their schedules.
UPDATE, 6/3: The Grand Palais closed at 2:30pm on Friday as the water level of the Seine continued to rise.
— Musée d’Orsay (@MuseeOrsay) June 3, 2016
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