The abandonment of the project for the Maison de l’Histoire de France, announced on France-Inter Radio by Aurélie Filippetti, French Minister of Culture, and confirmed by her on 10 October in Le Monde obviously comes as no surprise. The lack of hostile reaction to this move is. Then again, to be truthful, not many will regret it, ourselves included. We had wondered about the need for creating such an establishment since the beginning (see article in French) just as we had pointed out the ridiculous and vague preliminary project written up by Jean-Paul Rioux (see article in French). On the other hand, we had initially welcomed the choice of the buildings at the Archives Nationales to house this Maison de l’Histoire although imposed under debatable conditions and without consulting its personnel. Given this context, it would have been difficult for the two establishments to find a modus vivendi.
However, we do hope that opening the gardens to the public, keeping the four private residences on the rue des Francs-Bourgeois under government management though they may now stand empty and installing the décor from the Chancellerie d’Orléans in the Hôtel de Rohan-Strasbourg (a building which urgently needs to be restored) will not come under question (see article in French).
No regrets are needed then for the short-lived project of a Maison de l’Histoire de France. And Franck Riester, UMP deputy from Seine-et-Marne, is wasting his breath denouncing in Le Figaro the "break in republican continuity of the cultural domain which has seen, under the 5th Republic, each newly elected president of the Republic finish the projects initiated by his predecessor.", knowing it was high time these poorly financed projects were shelved. Nor shall we spill any tears for other cancelled plans none of which were really essential (for example, the Musée de la photo at the Hôtel de Nevers, Lascaux 4, the additional theater at the Comédie-Française or at the Bastille, the large storage facilities in Cergy...). The only one we shall regret is the MUCEM, resulting in the disappearance of the Musée des Arts et Traditions Populaires, too far along to turn back now. Caution should also be used at Versailles, so that the reorganization there does not imperil safety conditions.
We also commend the Minister’s announcement of a law concerning Zones d’aménagement urbain [Urban installation zones], to avoid the elimination of a great number of ZPPAUP in 2015.
However, we are still waiting to see how the budget for the Ministry of Culture will be affected. The money saved from cancelling these projects should go towards funding existing museums (acquisitions, refurbishments...) and to maintaining and restoring heritage assets. Aurélie Filippetti has asserted the economic importance of culture ("Art means work ; culture means jobs."). This fact has been repeatedly demonstrated in several studies, but apparently not enough to convince all of our government leaders.