The Louvre museum

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The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Mon Nov 19, 2018 3:24 pm

So thanks to the course I’ve chosen, based on the importance of art through history and the impact of personality and conflict, I should understand how the Grand Louvre become as it is today, be able to discuss the claim of the various collections and asking relevant questions about art history. Firstly in this course, I learned some things about the whole history of the buildings from medieval castle to the ‘pyramid’, then the ancien régime from the sixteenth century to the French Revolution in 1789, looking at the relationships between the acquisition of works of art, their display and the patronage of contemporary art. And finally it covers the creation of the Louvre as a museum under Napoleon I and its gradual transformation into the modern Louvre. So let me present you what I learned in this course more specifically :

As, a little introduction, the Louvre museum in Paris, one of the most popular museum in the world and houses 35, 000 works of art.
Paris is considered as the cultural capital of the world and the architectural style of its shopping centre is modern, expensive and lined in fine materials. But when you get to the Louvre, there are no shops anymore, it’s more quiet.

The Louvre museum is a monumental and imposing space, being also a space for people from many different countries attracted by one thing : seeing and visiting one of the home of the wonders of the modern world.The Louvre museum is a modern building, mixing stainless steel and glass. Outside this modern building turns out to be a pyramid, surrounded by palatial buildings on each side. These are the buildings of the Louvre, an erstwhile royal palace.

Do you know that at first, the pyramid was a very controversial subject ? Indeed, back then in 1984/85, people tend to confuse the form of the pyramid, with those in Egypt. I think it’s more a rumor than a real fact, because the Egyptian pyramids are enormous and made of stone or the Louvre pyramid is the opposite it’s made of glass and it’s transparent. Indeed, its transparency is very important, it brings light into the hall reception and allow to see through without enter the museum.

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Admin on Mon Nov 19, 2018 5:04 pm

Was it strange to read about this from an "English" perspective?
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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:57 pm

Hello John, actually not it wasn't weird. The Louvre museum is located in France but it's very international with the works of art in it and all the countries represented in the visitors so in my point of view it wasn't disturbing, it was more interesting to have that king of view it's different in the good way.


Last edited by Florine VIAUD on Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:30 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Clémence Giraud on Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:20 pm

Hello Florine, do you know why the louvre is in the pyramid shape ? Is there a signification ?
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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Tue Dec 04, 2018 5:20 pm

Hello Clemence,

Thanks for your interest concerning my subject Smile

So, as a little presentation, the Louvre pyramid has been created in order to modernize and expand the Louvre museum. It has been decided by the french president François Mitterand in 1981, when he was just elected.

The Louvre pyramid was imagined by the architect .

He is graduated from the MIT and has a master's degree from Harvard. He created other buildings like :
the John Hancock Tower and the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston,



the Bank of China Tower in Hong Kong


and the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin.


His latest achievement is the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar :


The pyramid's creation is the beginning of the Grand Louvre with the Richelieu annex that was used for the offices of the Ministry of Finance. Ieoh Ming Pei was appointed in 1983 for the development of a new grand entrance to receive the public and to bring a new interior layout for the museum. The pyramid has been presented in March 1989, symbolically the year of the bicentennial of the French Revolution.

Technically, the polyhedron pyramid occupies a surface at its base of 1000 m2, rises to 21, 65 meters above the ground and consists of 95 tons of steel, 105 tons of aluminum frames and 673 glass diamonds.

The pyramid that serves as entrance to the courtyard of the Louvre takes the exact proportions of the pyramid of Cheops. The choice of this figure is not without recalling the important collection of Egyptian antiquities within the museum, but also the Obelisk present on the Place de la Concorde not far from there.
There are also three small pyramids around the main one. Their locations are being studied to create skylights on access to the museum's collections.

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Tue Dec 04, 2018 8:05 pm

Hey there, so I am back to talk about the controversy about the pyramid of the Louvre museum.

Indeed, it was a controversial project. Some thought that such a modern architecture was offensive to the classicism of the museum in addition to reducing the visibility of the court Napoleon, others appreciated this mixture of old and modern. Debates that translated politically into a right / left battle.

Moreover, I don't if you know it but the pyramid, has been the subject of a myth pretty funny. People said that the Louvre pyramid would be the work of the Devil. It's the most persistent story about the pyramid, indeed the conspiracy theses are based on the fact that the monument was built with 666 glass plates. This figure is usually associate to Satan and would be a figure of the demon and the beast of the Apocalypse. Even recently, this theory was used in Da Vinci Code (Dan Brown's book) : we can find in this fiction, an allusion to this theroy but several countings have been made, and the official figure is 673 glass plates. So the theory would be unfounded, but it remains pretty funny in my point of view.

I’ve also learned an other « fun fact » about the pyramid of the Louvre museum. As soon as the project was announced by F. Mitterand, he has been suspected of taking himself for a pharaoh, by the brilliant Sino-American architect. Why that ? No contest was organized for giving a chance to others architects to propose their projects. So for this behavior, the French president was compared to the Egyptians sovereigns.

I found it pretty funny to discover those facts about this part of the Louvre museum. We all know this building but did you know about it ?


So, even if when it has been decided, the pyramid was a very contested project now people are coming only to see the pyramid. Now it's considered as a work of art as "La Joconde" or "La Venus de Milo ».

Thanks to the pyramid, the Louvre Museum has become a national but also an international reference and has turned also into a touristic attraction and a real symbol of the Louvre Museum on itself. People are coming sometimes just to see the pyramid, they say they saw the Louvre but actually they didn’t get in the museum, they just went to see the pyramid.

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:42 am

Today I would like to share a point I've read about in the subject I’ve chosen.

Many works of art, exposed in the Louvre Museum are pieces of art made from a wonderful work, but it’s also the results and the representation of a journey through the time. Indeed, a large majority of the works of art have been, collected, bought and sold, exchanged, they have been owned by royalties figures, by various collectors, families (royal/aristocratie) : they are examples of the several exchanges in the world though ages and the work of conservation and admiration of those pieces. It testifys of how through the ages those pieces have fascinated populations/people. It’s an other fact to admire about the works of art, not only in the Louvre museum, but in every museum.

The piece of art tells a story itself, but along time it has create its own story. As an example, after eighteen hundred, there were professional museum curators trying to fill out the collection, so there were dealers, offering the fruits of a lifetime’s taste to the nation, under a real business/chase. The Louvre museum, as many others museums, offers the result of this process of selection and trade in a major way thanks to its various collections.

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Admin on Fri Dec 07, 2018 10:47 am

Florine VIAUD wrote:Today I would like to share a point I've read about in the subject I’ve chosen.

Many works of art, exposed in the Louvre Museum are pieces of art made from a wonderful work, but it’s also the results and the representation of a journey through the time. Indeed, a large majority of the works of art have been, collected, bought and sold, exchanged, they have been owned by royalties figures, by various collectors, families (royal/aristocratie) : they are examples of the several exchanges in the world though ages and the work of conservation and admiration of those pieces. It testifys of how through the ages those pieces have fascinated populations/people. It’s an other fact to admire about the works of art, not only in the Louvre museum, but in every museum.

The piece of art tells a story itself, but along time it has create its own story.  As an example, after eighteen hundred, there were professional museum curators trying to fill out the collection, so there were dealers, offering the fruits of a lifetime’s taste to the nation, under a real business/chase. The Louvre museum, as many others museums, offers the result of this process of selection and trade in a major way thanks to its various collections.

I agree with you, the history of the art can be as amazing (or moreso) than the art itself.

There is also the "Dark Side" where art has been taken from occupied countries from times when France (and the UK) were world powers and "pillaged" their empire. Do you think we have to return these pieces of art to their countries of origin or do you think we should be allowed to keep them as it shows our historical power and the history of us and art?
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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Florine VIAUD on Mon Dec 10, 2018 11:37 pm

Good evening John,

It’s indeed a very interesting subject about works of art and their collections in museums. Thanks for bringing this idea to the subject. Smile

I do agree with this question : what happens when the works of art have been taken « illegally » ?
There is indeed the case with the works of art from Africa during colonization, (here a bit of reading haha…)


It’s a delicate subject, like we could saw it in 2016, in France with the former Foreign Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, when he said about the illegitimately acquired works of art from Benin, when he asked for their return "The goods you mention have been integrated for a long time, sometimes for more than a century, the movable public domain of the French State.In accordance with the legislation in force, they are subject to the principles of inalienability, imprescriptibility and unseizability, therefore their restitution is impossible. There was no doubt, the decision was clear

I learnt that, in French tradition, the heritage does not sell, does not give back, it is lent but it remains national property. It's written into the legislation. Nevertheless, in France, it exists a decommissioning commission which can decide if works of art can be returned, but it does not happen often but it did with the fragments of Tekity's tomb in Egypt in 2009 or a maori tattooed head to New Zealand in 2011, they have re-entered their home country.

The argument presented when the restitution question is asked is also about the security of the works of art. But is the country, which acquire the work of art illegally or illegitimately can fix the rules ? The country waiting for the restitution of the work of art should follow the security of the former owner country ?

Besides, the restitution creates many difficulties : the lack of information about a work of art in museums collections, the question of the real owner… The museums have to trace the provenances, make inventories, studying the past… Who is the owner of the works of art ? It seems to be the native country, but what’s happen when the bouderies have changed ? When the artist is from a nomadic community and he’s not attached to a specific country. Here is an exemple : the Quai Branly museum in Paris, holds a statue dating back to the 10th century from the Soninke people (who live mainly in Mali but also in southern Mauritania). To which country the museum should return the statue? It should be returned to the communities to which they were removed in the first place? Or to one of the two state, but which one? Would it be acceptable to return a work of art to a community and not a state ?


The restitution of the works of art is also admitting to have stolen them, to have taken them illegally. But the restitution is enough to repair what has been done in the past ? I think it cannot erase what happened, it might be seen as an apology or a recognition of the facts. Returning the works of art taken during colonization, won’t solved what have been done during all this time.

I do agree on the fact that, this kind of « stolen » collections/works of art are a witness of History, of what France and UK have done during colonization for example. It allows people to know what happened, and understand how African works of art are presented in french museum.
Like I said last week, sometimes the history of the work of art is sometimes way more important than the work of art itself. So I don’t know if it should be returned, it’s maybe more a political question, because I don’t have all the facts to be able to take this kind of decision (like about the historic facts, the knowledge about art…). But I think, it’s a real testimony of History, when you go in a museum wherever it’s located : you can really enter a period of time or a concept and immerse ourselves in those periods and understand sometimes a part of History thanks to muse collections.
On an other hand, it’s legitimate that country can present the works of art of their country on their ground. But it asks the question of how it could be done.


As Audrey Azoulay said, the director general of UNESCO, there is an « universal value » of the heritage, it’s supposed "to be shared, explained and circulating ». She talked about thinking of new cooperations with long-term loans. I think it's really relevant. Loans could be done, Occidental countries could lend national works of art from and not always ones from their foreign collections. So the works of art from Occidental courtines could also circulate through the world and be accessible in different courtines of the world. Could it happened with a big french and old masterpiece being loaned in Africa or somewhere else ? I think the idea of the works of art not being the property of one country only is very interesting. The fact that they could move and be accessible in different countries, I don't know if it could be possible, I don't think so.

Also, there is an estimate saying that 90% of the African heritage in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is out of the territory. This fact is not only happening because of the colonization effects or because of the war but it’s also due to the art market. Indeed, there is also the trade behind the works of art, where money interfere with art. When the value of the works of art has to be evaluate, but it asks the question of the very subjective value of a piece of art and its price. Also the fact that collectors can compete with museums, about their private intentions to own works of art, making them private. Art is an endless subject with many faces to discuss about !

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Re: The Louvre museum

Post by Admin on Tue Dec 11, 2018 10:10 am

Great reply, thanks
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