In Ungersheim (Haut-Rhin), the Alsace Ecomuseum has withstood the health crisis rather well. But today, its buildings require more and more maintenance and resources.

In Ungersheim (Haut-Rhin), the Alsace Ecomuseum could have lost its serenity with the health crisis. It has only been three years since the accounts of this open-air museum, which in 2019 posted a turnover of nearly 2.5 million euros, have been balanced.

Suffice to say that opening four months in 2020, instead of eight usually, looked complicated. Entries usually cover 85% of the operating budget, including the interventions of artisans who demonstrate ancient know-how. This 97-hectare park recreates an Alsatian village from the beginning of the last century and programs both introductory courses in bovine traction and company evenings. The rest of the expenses are covered by aid from the Grand Est region and the European Collectivity of Alsace (formerly Haut-Rhin and Bas-Rhin departmental councils), for around 550,000 euros. 30 permanent employees and ten seasonal workers are employed.

But Denis Leroy, the director of the site, believes that he “is doing quite well”. Attendance has been constant or even increased during the opening months and savings have been generated thanks to the use of partial activity until this summer 2021. He has also contracted a loan guaranteed by the State up to of 610,000 euros and, in 2020, the Haut-Rhin Departmental Council granted an additional 100,000 euros to get through this difficult period.

In reality, more than the pandemic, it is the state of the material heritage that concerns the leader today. The site will soon be 40 years old. However “the lifespan of a roof, a network, a building is estimated between 35 and 50 years, which means that we must pay more and more attention to our collections” , he explains. And if the Region and the ECA contribute to investments, in an equivalent way to operating subsidies, this is no longer sufficient in the face of the increase in the price of materials and labor.

An audit has just been ordered to specify needs and priorities. The first results are expected before the reopening in 2022. In the meantime, the Heritage Foundation will open, from September 17, a dedicated endowment fund to carry out maintenance and conservation work on built heritage that does not fall within the scope of the provisions. boxes for projects supported by local authorities.

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