Musée du Louvre

 

Heavy rains in Paris in early June caused flooding on the Seine, forcing the Louvre to close its doors to the public briefly in order to ensure protection of collection pieces on its lower levels. To our great pleasure, the Louvre reopens just before our visit.

The structure was originally built as a fortress in the twelfth century, and later converted to a Royal palace, then to a museum. The iconic glass pyramid between the two wings of the Louvre, and the companion lower level inverted glass pyramid were designed by I. M. Pei and completed in 1989 and 1993, respectively.

Since most art museums I’ve visited in the US were designed specifically for that purpose, I was surprised to discover that the building itself was, well, palatial, and nearly as fascinating as the amazing collections it houses. Next visit to Paris, I hope to tour the gardens to the Louvre’s Tuileries Garden and the Musée de l’Orangerie, where impressionist and post-impressionist paintings are on display.

I declined to take many photos, choosing instead to savor experience of seeing and being so close to such work. One gallery held a set of enormous sixteenth century tapestries depicting the Hunts of Maximilian over the course of twelve months. I was in awe of the scale of the tapestries and the detail in each; while I can’t seem to find information about the size of each tapestry, I would estimate each was at least twelve feet tall by twenty feet long.

Of course we saw the Mona Lisa, however the hoard of people pressed to the front of the barrier made it a less than desirable experience. Most of the Mona gawkers were more interested in taking a selfie with the painting in the background than studying the painting. Their loss.

There was , not surprisingly, way too much to see and take in during one quick visit. A few of the highlights of our visit that are not as well publicized and the incredible paintings, sculpture and artifacts were the elegantly painted and gilded ceilings and walls, swords and sheaths from the middle ages.

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