France and UK sign Bayeux Tapestry deal
Signature of an administration arrangement relating to the Bayeux Tapestry by Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, and Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport
Paris, 6 July 2018
The Bayeux Tapestry, dating from the end of the 11th and beginning of the 12th century, is a masterpiece of medieval textile art, given its dimensions (70 metres long and 70 centimetres high) and the exceptional artistic and historical legacy it represents. Classified as a historic monument since 1840 and included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register since 2007, it is a National Treasure. Depicting the saga of William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, and Harold Godwinson, culminating in the famous battle for the throne of England, the Battle of Hastings, it is an invaluable and original historical record illustrating France and the UK’s shared history.
The signature of an administrative arrangement by Françoise Nyssen, Minister of Culture, and Matthew Hancock, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on 5 July 2018 in the presence of local elected representatives, who are very involved in the project, looks set to strengthen cooperation on cultural heritage between France and the UK in relation to this iconographical masterpiece and unique historical document, which the city of Bayeux has been responsible for managing and presenting to the public since 1804.
Run by a dedicated committee comprising representatives from the two countries, the project consists of scientific and technical cooperation to preserve the Bayeux Tapestry, showcase it (with a view to possible loan) and broaden understanding about it at international level, particularly among the British public. It also provides an opportunity for collaborative efforts on the basis of museum projects, mediation and exchanges with institutions that have works likely to enrich our understanding and experience of the Bayeux Tapestry.
Françoise Nyssen thanks those involved in this cultural cooperation, on both the French and British sides, which is helping to raise the profile of French culture abroad. "The administrative arrangement we’re signing today is a decisive step. It will enable us to formalize and develop the cooperation that has been embarked on in recent months between our British and French experts and institutions, in order to deepen understanding of the tapestry and determine the conditions for the transfer and conservation of the work. It’s extremely fragile, and we must examine all the necessary conditions for preserving its integrity. In nearly 1,000 years, the Bayeux Tapestry has never left French soil."
Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said, "The Bayeux Tapestry is a world treasure and a symbol of the deep ties between Britain and France. This agreement takes us a step closer to bringing the tapestry to our shores for the first time in almost a millennium. It also underlines the ongoing commitment from both nations for greater cultural, digital and scientific collaboration now and into the future. We are incredibly excited about the potential of the loan, to enhance further the bonds that tie us to our neighbours across the water."