The Plans-reliefs are scale models representing a geographical sector like a city or a region. Their initial purpose was mainly for military campaigns organization. The oldest one are estimated from the Renaissance era.
The Palais des Beaux-Art at Lille possesses sixteen models in its permanent exposition, representing some cities around and Belgians too. Their presence here is a long story. The Plans-reliefs are owned by the French State and in 1983, the Prime Minister Pierre Mauroy, also Lille’s Mayor wanted to have the Lille representation exposed in its city. The Cultural Minister or these era, Jack Lang, proposed the city to host 40 models in the name of the State decentralization. The models would represent the North cities along with Belgium and Netherlands ones.
Hower, the transfer of the models triggered a controversy during the 1986 parliament elections. The current Government rollbacked its decision and finally, an agreement has been found between Lille and the French State to host 19 models. Finally, only 16 will be transferred to Lille, the rest of the collection remains at Paris, in the Musée des Plans-reliefs.