The center was built at a cost of $51 million to contain what one expert called “the memory of humanity” — 250,000 paintings, drawings, statues and other objects from across the world and spanning nine millennia.

The works belong to the Louvre but unlike the French museum’s stars — Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo or the Winged Victory of Samothrace — they are held out of sight in storage rooms. Now, this literally priceless stored collection — the Louvre says it would be impossible to estimate its worth — is being transferred to a modern conservation center in Liévin, northern France, where it will be held for future generations.

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