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Anne Hidalgo. Photo: FIDH - International Federation for Human Rights.

Mayor of Paris Proposes Turning City into a “Refuge” for Cultural Heritage

The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, is planning on making the French capital a safe haven for cultural heritage objects from areas across the globe threatened by armed conflicts. She first proposed moving at-risk artworks to various storage areas in secure buildings owned by the city at a meeting with Paris’s Cultural Council last week.

According to Le Figaro, the Crédit Municipal de Paris will work to reserve several hundred square meters of space for the initiative, which is still in development. Hidalgo will collaborate with the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Zones, also known as ALIPH—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet—a Geneva-based foundation launched by France, UNESCO, and the United Arab Emirates. “The protection of heritage is inseparable from the protection of human life,” declared former president François Hollande when he announced the partnership last year.

Chaired by the American billionaire Thomas Kaplan, the creator of the Leiden Collection of Dutch Painting, ALIPH has fourteen board members, including Richard Kurin, undersecretary for museums and research at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC; Jean-Luc Martinez, director of the Louvre in Paris; Markus Higert, director of the Near and Middle Eastern art department at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin; Mariët Westermann, executive vice president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and Mohamed al-Mubarak, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Cultural Authority.

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