10 August 2018

The Louvre

 
Monalisa

Egyptian exhibit

Egyptian exhibit

How does one approach the biggest museum in the world? Even for a self confessed Museophile, the Louvre is a challenge, an enigma, an ecstatic feeling - more emotion than substance! Louvre was the residence of the French Bourbon kings before Louis XIV. He, in a fit of spiteful rage against the ever scheming Parisian pretenders to his throne move his palace lock stock and barrel to Versailles, with his retinue in tow. The Louvre is palatial, to say the least. It occupies a large expanse of the right bank of the Seine in central Paris. The display rooms, the corridors, verandahs, crypts, domes spread over acres of floor space. The French Tourism website states that to even see it superficially one need one full week. There is no relic of civilisation too exotic, no art movement too obscure for the Louvre. It has it all. Floors, upon floors of it. You need a map and an app in addition to the multiple signposts to navigate this behemoth of a museum. The official Louvre app is pitifully inadequate. It is better to take a map available for free near the inverted glass pyramid on the reception. It is available in seven languages. The queues are unending, the airport style security checks tedious. But after all this one is rewarded with an experience that is truly fulfilling in a totally Parisian way. Chances are that one has allotted 4 or may be five hours for the entire Louvre visit and not a week. So take it easy. You are not going to see the entire Louvre - ever! So chose one tiny morsel of the world history and be content if you can see half of that! We chose Egypt.
But to before that, the mandatory visit to the Monalisa. It is kept in the Italian art section in a massive room behind a bullet proof glass. The size of the paintings underwhelms you. Contrasting with the massive rooms in which it is displayed and the huge murals for its company, the Monalisa looks tiny. There is a huge crowd in front of it and it’s impossible to get a good shot. The nearby art sections are more rewarding - even for a self confessed art philistine for me. We are almost swayed away from our agenda of visiting the Egyptian section by the massive paintings of the renaissance era. However, after many tiring miles of walking and gawking over myriad sculptures, paintings and exhibits we do reach the Egyptian section. The rooms are nearly as beautiful as the exhibits on display. That is hardly surprising as the Louvre is no ordinary building, it was a royal residence. Soon we are tired beyond our wits. We hunt for the nearest rest room. And exit! What do we take from there? No specific memory of any particular exhibit, not even of the Monalisa. But a sense of proportion of the variety of cultures the human civilisation has produced over the last three odd millennia. And Louvre can tell you only one thing - you are a proud inheritor of a world civilisation - which you cannot fathom in a lifetime of wandering!

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