A Museum in a Museum
When we think of the Louvre, we think of the museum and of all the beautiful exhibits on display: the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, Liberty Leading the People…and many more. However for me, the Louvre is not only a museum, but a museum inside a museum. How so? Quite simply because the building itself has a rich history which I always love to share with our visitors.
The Louvre has been a museum since 1792, however it was first of all a fortress protecting Paris from 1190, followed by a royal residence until the 18th Century. All the Kings of France as well as Napoléon I and Napoléon III have resided here.
I begin my tour of the Louvre with the oldest but the most recent: the Louvre pyramid. This pyramid was created in 1989 by the Chinese artist Ioeh Ming Pei. Today, it is the inseparable symbol of the museum and a source of legend thanks to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. It was during the archeological excavation in 1984-85 to make way for the pyramid that medieval foundations of the Louvre palace were discovered.
It is from here that I continue my tour and it is without doubt my favourite part. It is a moving experience to walk next to these old stones which spell history with an H, each stone has a soul. Did you know that once upon a time each company of stone masons featured their symbol on each and every stone, in order to be paid at the end of their work? We can still find their symbols on certain stones today, offering a visible link between the past and the present.
From here, my tour is dedicated to the Great Masterpieces of the Louvre. You’ll find Greek sculptures, Italian paintings & French paintings. Everyone has seen these works at least once in their lives in books or on television, they form part of our culture. But what makes a masterpiece? I would define it as a mysterious work hiding many secrets. What is hidden behind the smile of the Mona Lisa? What was Théodore Géricault’s message when he painted The Raft of the Medusa? Were their other objects found alongside the Venus de Milo, and do we know the name of her sculptor?
Join me to discover this extraordinary place and its finest works. Together we will make sense of and marvel at this museum inside a museum.
A word of advice - before my tour, I invite you to warm up your neck and your voice - you’ll be looking above, below, left and right and exclaiming your wonder at these artistic and architectural treasures!