French museums are mobilizing to protect art collections in Ukraine with an emergency supply truck

More than 20 museums and institutions across France, including the Louvre, the musée du quai Branly-Jacques Chirac and the National Library of France, have donated emergency supplies to Ukrainian museums to help protect their collections from the destruction.

A truck carrying 15 tons of packaging and preservation materials – ranging from crates and bubble wrap to fire extinguishers and blankets – left Paris earlier this week for Warsaw, where Polish cultural professionals are organizing rapid relief for their counterparts across the border in Ukraine.

The aid initiative was coordinated by the French national committee of the International Council of Museums (Icom), which issued an urgent appeal for materials to its members after a virtual meeting on March 8 between French and Ukrainian museum professionals. Juliette Raoul-Duval, chair of the Icom France committee, said the “most important” request from Ukrainian museums was for conservation equipment to support field staff moving collections to basements or other locations. storage for security reasons.

The Parisian warehouse of art transport company Chenue, which collected donations from museums across France and delivered them to Poland for free earlier this week Photo: courtesy Icom France

The art transport company Chenue offered its services free of charge, its warehouse in Paris serving as a central point for collecting donations from museums in the capital but also from the regions, including Lille, Rouen, Rennes, Nantes, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. The outpouring of support shows that French museums, big and small, stand in solidarity with their beleaguered colleagues in Ukraine, says Raoul-Duval. “It’s a great emotion for us, it’s a way of understanding how strong our network is.”

Raoul-Duval says there is “enough material left in the warehouse to fill another truck”, which could go to Poland as early as next week. The first delivery was unloaded yesterday at the National Institute of Cultural Heritage in Warsaw, which is in direct contact with Ukrainian museums and distributes resources according to their needs.

In the longer term, the French committee of Icom is exploring ways to help Ukrainian museum professionals wishing to start a new life in France, explains Raoul-Duval. Many French museums are “ready to welcome” refugees, she says. “Everyone wants to act quickly and help.”

Earlier this month, the French Ministry of Culture announced a new €1 million fund supporting study and work placements for Ukrainian refugee artists and art professionals, as well as “dissident Russian artists”.