Decorated caves have a fragile balance. The natural conditions of preservation rely on happy accidents of nature. The discovery of such sites can potentially unbalance these conditions, possibly with severe, very fast occurring consequences.
Consequently, the majority of decorated caves, particularly those recently discovered, are closed to the public. The disastrous consequences incurred by the Lascaux cave just 15 years after it was open to the public have made the authorities think. The media exposure of such events has educated the public, and today, everyone knows that it is crucial to preserve these unique monuments for future generations. Nevertheless, this awareness comes alongside a growing demand for access to the treasures they hide.
Since the start of the 1980s, various procedures have been proposed as solutions, rather than closing the caves. Again, Lascaux led the way, with the first photographic reproduction then pictoral copy procedures, in recreated volumes using photogrammetry. Today, 3D modelling is the basis for these reconstructions, but above all, it is the integration of scientific work into the elaboration of projects targeting the public which is emphasised. Thus, there is a proposal (as for Chauvet and Lascaux) for the most lively immersion possible, but also for the presentation of analyses and research so far.
Research is also promoted through many works, articles and audiovisual documentaries. In addition to this, new technologies are employed, such as the multimedia collection on major archaeological sites (Grands sites archéologiques), which shows great interest for these subjects with over 900,000 visits for Chauvet and a million for Lascaux in 2014.
Archaeological research in France is publicly funded, and in return, it is only fair to make the results as widely available as possible.