It may not seem that a magnificent museum fits the theme of this blog, however, if taken in the overall context of legacy that long-left-behind bones represent I’d say the Louvre holds its own, tongue in cheek obviously intended. I’ve imagined walking the halls of this Paris legend since I was a small child regaled by my mom’s stories of her visit to Paris as a teenager from her small town high school. I recall being astounded by her account of wandering the halls for the entire day and still not seeing everything. I thought, this cannot possibly be true. How can one building be that extensive? But today I write confirmation that there is no possible way to take in the vast offering of collections within the brief confines of a day.
The trip began with a short underground metro ride from our stop at Les Gobelins to the Palais Royal at the Louvre. Walking up the stairs from the train I truly had no idea what was in store for us until we emerged and I gasped at the sight. The entire street was a wall, a fortress really as this palace cum museum provided the first, yet not nearly last, sense of overwhelm I would feel during our visit. Stepping back into the courtyard trying to comprehend exactly what we were seeing, I took photos that would not even come close to representing the structure. And so, after a few brief minutes of dumfoundment, we surrendered to our greater need to enter and joined the rest of the crowd vying to cross the busy street.
I snapped photos of our jaunt through the outer entrance toward what I assumed would be a courtyard. I recall long hallways, beautiful architecture and having no clue about what it would be like to emerge from that passage. Another deep breath ensued as I stood beyond the entrance, spinning in circles trying to grasp the sheer magnitude of this former home to kings and queens. We wandered outside for at least 20 minutes looking for the entrance (yeah, the pyramid in the centre, we figured it out) but also reveling in the enormity of this extensive construction.
Once we finally entered the pyramid, having our bodies scanned and our bags x-rayed, it was another feat to purchase tickets and find our way to the inner entrance to the halls. There is no possible way to share every sharp intake of breath or eyes wide in amazement at another incredible sight. However there were definitely some highlights that we managed to take in.
I loved mythology as a child and I devoured stories on Greek and Roman gods and goddesses; at one point I even knew all their names and representations on both sides. It was beyond incredible to see not only the beginnings of these civilizations but also their versions of each of their idols in the form of enormous and beautifully carved statues. One room boasted artifacts from ancient Greek temples, including the base of pillars from the temples of Diana and Apollo. As we moved further along to the paintings, while I wasn’t enthralled by the Christian religious-based art, I was admittedly transfixed by mythological renderings through the ages by artists from many different regions and was struck by the concept that they were impacted by the same stories that I enjoyed as a child.
There were vast halls dedicated to kings of the ages and the main gallery was a spectacle unto itself. The Mona Lisa, while enigmatic and poised did not actually affect me in the ways that other paintings did. Perhaps I found the large crowd surrounding the small and quite distant rendering distasteful, as I prefer to appreciate art in private. Solitude spared embarrassment at times; it was impossible to tell what would emerge around the next corner and reduce me to tears, for example, the sight of my first Monet.
I was never interested in history of anything, why would I spend time thinking about the past when there was so much to know about now and the future. As I wandered aimlessly, luxuriating in the offerings of long-dead humans, again I found myself reflecting on who these people were and what was going through their heads. It has been an interesting exploration thus far and I can’t wait to let my imagination flow further.