Having not been very impressed with the paintings in the Louvre during our short visit on Sunday, we returned on Wednesday evening to see some of the other exhibits. The museum stays open until 9.45pm on Wednesdays (and Fridays), so we took advantage of the late opening and arrived in the early evening, when there were no crowds waiting to get in.
Once we were in the museum, we headed to the ‘Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas’ on the ground floor. I’d like to say that we went straight there, but nothing is that simple in the Louvre. The layout is maddening! Even with a map in hand, we were forced to ask several museum staff members for directions and even had to ascend to level 1 in order to get to some stairs that descended back to ground level to reach the exhibit. Crazy! But we made it.
I’m a fan of African art and was looking forward to this section of the museum. There were some nice pieces on display, but not many. I was quite disappointed that there weren’t more. The Oceanic and American items complimented the African pieces but, again, there weren’t a huge amount of them on display.
We wanted to visit the ancient Egyptian section next, but that required us to walk through either the Roman or Greek exhibits. We opted to see the Greek display on the way, including the statue of Venus de Milo, one of the museums signature pieces. I don’t know what all the fuss is about, to be honest.
We also took a detour to the lower level of the museum to see the Pavillon de L’Horloge that includes the foundations of the old fort upon which the Louvre was built, as well as the history of the fortifications and its transition.
The Egyptian exhibits were very interesting. Part of the exhibit focussed on the languages and writings of the ancient Egyptians. Another segment focussed on mummification and included a copy of the Book of the Dead. Definitely one of the more interesting parts of the museum!
Our last objective was to visit Napoleon’s Apartment. I’d researched where to find it on the 1st level (room 87, near the restaurant) but when we got there, we found part of the wing had been walled off for renovations. We asked museum staff and were told that the the area was closed. So, no Napoleon’s Apartment for us. After that disappointment, we decided to end our visit. It was getting dark outside, which allowed me to take some photos of the Louvre a night. Quite a sight!
After our two visits this week, I am not particularly impressed with the Louvre. Yes, it’s a large museum with some interesting pieces on display but it is far from the best museum I’ve been to. New York’s Metropolitan Museum beats the Louvre hands down, in my opinion (better paintings and a far better exhibit of Africa art). And for paintings alone, the Musee d’Orsay is is a far more enjoyable experience. The Louvre is so hard to negotiate, it becomes an exercise in frustration. I’ve now visited three times and will not visit again whenever I visit Paris – there are too many other museums that I’d rather explore.