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New Louvre museum in Lens, France, aims to revitalize mining town

There won't be a permanent collection -- all the works will be lent from the Louvre and rotated. Some famous works, such as the "Mona Lisa," are too fragile to travel, the Louvre says.

The Lens project, along with plans to open a new Louvre branch in 2013 on an island in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, has critics worried the central Paris museum will be deprived of some masterpieces and watered down -- a concern that the Louvre has brushed off, saying its treasures must reach a wider audience.

Louvre director Loyrette has shaken things up at the 216-year-old institution since he took over in 2001.

Besides boosting private sponsorship and launching the Lens and Abu Dhabi projects, Loyrette is also working on a new gallery for Islamic art at the main museum. Attendance is way up, too: The museum had 8.5 million visitors in 2008, a jump of 67 percent from 2001.

-- Associated Press

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