Sunday, September 7, 2014

How to Conquer the Louvre

The Louvre,The Louvre, The Louvre. Where shall I begin? The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, housing thousands of works of art. The Louvre, which used to be a royal palace, contains three wings the Denon where the Mona Lisa lives, the Sully and the Richelieu, all of which span a whopping 60.600 square meters! Not only in the Louvre massive in size, there are also over 50,000 masterpieces that call the Louvre home. With all this is mind, it would be impossible to see everything in Louvre in just one visit. After my trip to the Louvre I have a few tips that may assist my fellow travelers in conquering the Louvre in an afternoon (at least part of it, anyway)

1. Plan your adventure in the Louvre before you get there
     While this may seem like the most basic tip, it is of the utmost importance. The Louvre is too big to see it all in one day, so decide which areas of the museum you would most like to see. If you want to see the Egyptian art, make your plan revolve around that. If you are into the sculptures, start your adventure there. Choose to see the art that interests you, not just what everyone else wants to see or think you should see. That way, you will not waste your time viewing artworks that do not make your heart soar the way art should! If you make a plan and stick to it, the Louvre will seem much less overwhelming. On my visit, I planned to stay mostly in the Denon wing so that I could see the Mona Lisa and many of the Renaissance paintings I studied in art history my freshman year and ended my visit with a visit to the sculptures. In making my plan, I saw what I most wanted to see and can save the other wings for a future visit.

2. Go early
     There are so many lines. Lines to get in, lines to see artworks, the lines never seem to end at the Louvre.  We arrived at the Louvre early, before it opened, so that the line moved quickly and there were less people when we were admitted to the museum. If you come with your plan already mapped out, you will really save some time. You'll thank me later.

3. Bring a snack and water with you
    This one does not seem like a tip but think of it this way: you are going to walk in the Louvre and walk a lot (it is HUGE). Having water and a snack will help to fight off fatigue after and hour or two running around the halls and experiencing the masterpieces. I might not have made it through without my water and granola bar for sustenance along the way. If anything, bring water to stay hydrated from all the walking.

4. Know when to stop and rest
     This goes along with bringing a snack but at some point you will get tired. Find a seat near a work of art you enjoy and spend ten minutes really looking carefully. notice the brushstrokes, the background, the colors, anything and everything you can. Not only will your feet feel rejuvenated after resting, but you will notice parts of the artwork you might have otherwise missed if you had not stopped and taken the time to really look.

5. Only take pictures of works that really, really, really impact you (But definitely take a selfie with the Mona Lisa!)
      Shocking, I know I am telling you not to take pictures of everything but hear me out. There are so many other people at the Louvre that it can be difficult to take a quality photograph. Everyone is walking around with cameras over their heads trying to capture the Venus de Milo and the cameras can get in the way of taking a clean picture yourself. I suggest taking pictures of the names of the pieces that speak to you or write them down in a notebook so that you can search them on the internet later and find a better picture than you could take. In doing this, you can really take in all of the artwork and truly enjoy it, instead of walking through the Louvre and seeing all of the art through the lens of a camera. However, I do suggest that you take a selfie with Mona Lisa like I did to remember your trip!
My selfie with Mona!

6. Enjoy looking at the architecture of the Louvre, not just the artwork
      The artwork in the Louvre is some of the best in the world, so it can be easy to only look at the art on the walls, but the walls themselves are pretty beautiful too! The Louvre used to be a palace, so make sure to take in the architectural details, from the arches to the flooring. It can be a nice change of pace from all of the other masterpieces or when you are walking from wing to wing, be sure to stop and look around you, or you might miss the architecture!

7. If you are not ready to tackle the Louvre, try another museum first
     The Louvre can feel like a big challenge and it can be. It is a large museum and that can be intimidating. If you are not up for the crowds in the Louvre or would like something smaller, there are two other museums in Paris I suggest giving a visit. The first is the Musee d'Orsay. It is a museum that is housed in an old train station, which was enough for me to pay it a visit. It is a stunning building with many other beautiful works inside from famous painters including Degas, Manet,Renior, van Gogh, and many others, Another museum worth a visit is the Musee de l'Orangerie, which used to be an old orange greenhouse hence the name.The highlights here are the eight Monet Waterlily paintings that occupy all four walls in two rooms. In these rooms, I sat and really looked at each painting thoroughly. Downstairs, there are impressionist and post-impressionist paintings from the likes of Renoir and Picasso. Out of all three museums, Musee de l'Orangerie was by far my favorite since impressionism is my favorite type of painting and the size was oerfect for me! Be sure to check these two out of you have time, as I highly recommend them!

Here are the links to all three Museums:

Louvre Museum Official Website

Musée d'Orsay: Home

Musée de l'Orangerie

With these few tips, you to can successfully conquer the Louvre, and other museums,too!

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