Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Museums and Europe, part 2 of 13ish, The Louvre

The Eldest by The Pyramid (we don't know the guy being impaled but we chuckle every time we look at this picture)

The Eldest drawing one of the busts

The Eldest coming out of a mock up of an Egyptian chamber (like you might find in a pyramid) being a mummy or zombie, or... something. She says "rarrr".

Me by the fancy doors leading to the room with the crowns and jewels. I was carrying a lot of stuff- the audio guide, my purse, my cane/seat, (which helped me get through the trip since I have really bad feet; I can walk OK but standing kills me), and the bag with my jacket, scarf, and umbrella. It was cold and rainy out on the streets but HOT inside The Louvre!

The model of the medieval castle

The Louvre, Monday, May 11 and Wednesday, May 13:

We arrived at the Louvre via the Metro and didn’t enter through I.M. Pei’s Pyramid although we did see the bottom part of it. This is still a pretty cool entrance, though, since I was surprised to find the area between the Metro station and the Louvre is an underground mall called the Carrousel du Louvre. There are shops there like any mall, a kitchen gadgets store, perfume shop, Virgin Mega Store, clothing stores, etc., and Maison du Chocolat, a store we spent hours looking for on our last day in Paris only to realize we’d walked by it twice already. (Argh.) There’s also a food court, and believe it or not I got better paella there than we got in Barcelona. Go figure.

The Louvre is one overwhelming museum; it seems bigger than Disney Land! I would love to go back some day and spend more time there but given our whirlwind itinerary we were not able to do it justice even in two visits. We saw “the big 3” (Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, and the Venus de Milo) and then wandered around several other areas. I enjoyed the sculpture rooms where I particularly liked Artemis with a Doe, since we kept finding her in other places kind of like a classical Where’s Waldo. She makes one other appearance at the Louvre outside the Mona Lisa room and we also saw her at Versailles in the Hall of Mirrors. I could swear there was another copy of her at Dali’s Teatro-Museo, all altered of course, but The Eldest says no. We also ventured through some of the Egyptian displays and, right before closing, found an area with walls built out of large stone blocks in order to recreate the feel of a medieval fortress. There wasn’t much else in this area, like it’s still under construction, but there was a model of a medieval castle right by the exit. (Pictured above.)

The Louvre is where I figured out about the lighting- it’s terrible there. It glares on many of the paintings and frequently obscures parts of the images so you have to move around like you’re at a tennis match to see everything. I was also disappointed at the way the Mona Lisa is displayed. While I understand the need for security, there’s no crowd control so it’s just a mass of people standing in front of her glass barrier with no way to get a really good view. I can’t imagine that old Leo would be happy with having his masterpiece plopped up on a plain wall, either. He painted it for display in a richer setting, like over a fireplace mantel or in a study. They should do something special for her display, maybe drape some rich fabric behind the frame or paint in a trompe l’oeil room that would have been typical at the time she was created, or something.

As a final note, if you go visiting museums pay for the darn audio guide. We didn’t get one the first time we went to the Louvre but we did the second and the commentary added so much to the experience. It’s fascinating to learn about the history of the art as you are looking at it; there are so many stories.

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