New annual records are being set for visits to French museums, including 10 million to the Louvre in 2012.
The Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean opened in Marseille in June 2013.
A new bill on heritage covers archives, preventive archaeology, museums and built heritage and protected zones.
4.2.2 Heritage issues and policies
Heritage is the first sector of cultural participation in France after broadcasting. The interest in heritage was qualified as a "major French passion", which is illustrated by the audience success, every year, of the Heritage Days that were created in 1984 by the French Ministry of Culture and became in 1991 the European Heritage Days. Since the 1980s, thousands of heritage associations are concerned with the protection, preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage at local level. They are partners of territorial authorities. For the past few years we also notice an increase in visitors to museums, with new records in 2012. This success is in particular seen in the major Parisian museums and, beyond a certain French specificity, we can also notice the contribution of cultural tourism there: about 10 million visitors, of which 2/3 are foreign visitors, to the Louvre (including the Louvre-Lens branch), which consolidates its world first place; more than 3.8 million to Beaubourg, including about 45% foreign visitors; and 3.6 million visitors to the Musée d'Orsay, its best visitor rate in 25 years. It has been underlined that arts and heritage can play a powerful role in times of crisis, with also fewer holiday departures abroad for French audiences that may refocus on heritage and more affordable activities at a national level.
Like the domain of creation, heritage is a constantly evolving sector. The objective of heritage policies is not a general "state of heritage" (patrimonialisation) to have time suspended, but rather to offer an access opportunity to historic knowledge to better know the origin and construction of the identities. The ministry pays particular attention to the heritage of the 20th century, to emphasise the social dimension of the country and its diversity of origins. In 1999, the Ministry launched the label "Heritage of the 20th century".
The Centre of Architecture and Heritage (Cité de l'architecture et du patrimoine) was opened to the public in April 2007 in the Palais de Chaillot, in Paris-Trocadéro. In 2010 the Ministry of Culture launched the plan "Museums in the regions", endowed with about 70 million EUR over three years to support 79 museographic or architectural projects on the whole territory. A new building complex for the National Archives was opened in January 2013, in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine in the Paris region, to complement the existing archives centre in Paris and Fontainebleau. It is equipped with contemporary technologies and will include 220 stores of archives distributed on eleven levels, representing 320 kilometres of shelves.
Another striking evolution is the recent opening of decentralised major museums or branches of major national museums: Centre Pompidou / Beaubourg-Metz in Lorraine in 2010, Louvre-Lens Museum in region Nord-Pas-de-Calais in 2012, the Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean (MuCEM) opened in Marseille in June 2013, during the event of European Capital of Culture. This evolution took an international dimension with the planned opening in 2014 of the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates (see chapter 3.4.4).
In 2013 a bill on heritage has been announced, which comprises 4 big chapters:
The main motivations of this bill are to update the heritage law according to recent evolutions in the sector, and to reinforce the legal protection of heritage.
Heritage policies are being renewed. It is a particular issue for local and regional actors, notably in territories that have a strong geo-historic identity capital (Alsace, Brittany, Corsica for example). Among the French cultural expressions registered on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity are: Compagnonnage, a network for on-the-job transmission of knowledge and identities (2010); Gastronomic meal of the French (2010); le Cantu in paghjella, a secular and liturgical oral tradition of Corsica; the falconry, a living human heritage (2010, shared with the United Arab Emirates, Belgium, Czech Republic, South Korea, Mongolia, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Syria); and the fest noz (2012), a traditional feast in Brittany. The site http://www.patrimoinevivantdelafrance.fr, dedicated to the intangible Cultural heritage of France, was set up in 2010 by the regional branches of the television channel France 3 in partnership with the Ministry of Culture and under the patronage of the French National Commission for UNESCO. In 2011 the Ministry of Culture created the French Centre of Intangible Cultural Heritage, situated in Vitré in Brittany within the Documentation Centre on World Performances, which is linked to the World Cultures Institute (Maison des Cultures du Monde) (see chapter 3.4.2). These policies proceed from the UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage ("chapter III Safeguarding of the intangible cultural heritage at the national level").
Heritage policies face the challenges of digitalisation, which multiplies the potential of distribution, transmission and promotion of the material and intangible heritage: ancient manuscripts, maps, plans, paintings, drawings, movies, stories and songs, etc. About 5 million documents were digitised and more than 2 000 hours of sound documents. The Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF, national library) set up in 1997 the digital library Gallica, which in 2010 reached over a million digitised documents. The BNF was one of the founding partners of Europeana, the European numerical library launched in November, 2008 by the European Commission. The French National Audiovisual Institute (Institut national de l'audiovisuel, INA) also plays an important role to preserve and diffuse broadcasting and audiovisual digital archives, in particular via its website. Since 2000, the Ministry of Culture and Communication also supports projects of digitalisation initiated by territorial authorities or civil bodies, associations.
A great deal of research work was carried out to improve digitalisation processes, document indexing and digitised content. The adoption of rules governing the description of documents is aimed at guaranteeing the compatibility of different information systems. As the internet is a world-wide network (half of the connections to the paintings database Mona Lisa are from outside France), there is a need for a firm policy on the multilingualism of the sites that diffuse digitised cultural heritage documents.
For more information, see
European Heritage Network: Country profile France