Louvre versus Louvre (I)

A Palace with more than five hundred years of history reconverted to the most famous Museum in the world.

Hi, when you live in a family with significant load throughout the history, you need to learn to young age that you have a responsibility with your ancestors and, obviously, your present (the future is always an open question). Thus, you should understand my emotional ties with a building that represents more than five hundred years of history of France, and, of course, part of my own, how many documents I keep in a corner with the name this building is something that I will not say, at least today and here. It name is (you know) the Louvre (my hand shakes me when I write its name).

Vista frontal del Louvre
Front view of the Louvre

All starts with a wall built in 1190 by the King Felipe Augusto on the banks of the river Seine to protect Paris. This fortification varies over the time from being a defensive construction to temporary residence, and is Francisco I in 1528 who decides to establish the Royal residence in the place. Another King, Enrique II, would be responsible for carrying out the main modifications of the Palais du Louvre. Pierre Lescot was commissioned to give shape to the new Pavilion with reference to the Renaissance and creating a spectacular building with the best craftsmen and carpenters from the moment.

When death Enrique II, Catherine de Médicis buy some land to the west, where there was a tile factory, building the Palace of the Tuileries (Tejerías), which will be, for several centuries, the Royal residence. Henry IV built a gallery of almost half a kilometre long linking the Louvre Palace with the Tuileries, Luis XIII doubled the building of Pierre Lescot converting the set in something solid and ornamental. Luis XIV not love the place and ordered the construction of the Palace of Versailles, moving the Government there. In 1665 the famous Bernini moved to France with some sketches of the expansion of the complex, frustrated, will return for where it came with their planes… How would have changed the history if they had accepted his designs? We will never know.

Vista aérea del Louvre
Aerial view of the Louvre

Instead of Bernini, took over Claude Perrault, making a reinterpretation of the Italian Baroque with paired columns and colossal dimensions, this was imitated in large hotels in Europe and the United States during the 18th to 20th Centuries. In the year 1793, on the wings of the French Revolution, the complex becomes in the Louvre Museum, opening in this way to the general public (and for the first time) this building and its interior. Napoleon I still improving and completing the building, although his greater contribution is the Arc de Triumph of Carousel. Years later, Napoleon III gives a new advance to the complex by joining the Tuileries Palace with the Louvre Museum using iron for the first time in the new building, they will call him the new Louvre. In 1871 the Tuileries Palace is burned and, after a difficult discussion is decided to demolish its remains.

Fachada del museo Louvre
Facade of the Louvre museum

Over time, the various palaces are occupied by different administrations, some of which were not transferred until 1986, with the last major reform of the Museum. This reform was quite controversial, too many people did not like the Pharaonic budget which the President François Mitterrand used to the work, although the time has shown that he was reason. This reform creates a space of reception centralized in the basement, in the Napoleon Patio. The architect in charge, the winner of the Pritzker Architecture in 1983 Ieoh Ming Pei, revolutionized the society of French with his proposal: a pyramid of steel and glass of 21,60 meters of height and tilt angle of 51 degrees (same as the pyramids of Egypt), weighing about 180 tonnes and is composed of 673 units of laminated glass.

La pira
The pyramid was designed by Ieoh Ming Pei

The Museum was born with residential vocation, and therefore was not adapted to the purpose for which is currently intended. Ieoh installed the main entrance in the glass pyramid, which gives access to three galleries with a spectacular spiral staircase: Richelieu wing, the Denon wing and the Sully wing. The large skylight illuminates the new public and technical services necessary for all modern Museum. The improvements in the communications were introduced between the different buildings and were built underground car parks. They created an auditorium with 420 seats, 5,800 square meters of reception, 3,900 square meters of research, 3,500 of cafes and restaurants (thank goodness), tents for museums, temporary exhibitions, and so on.

This first phase was opened in 1989. A second phase, also performed by Ming and opened in 1993, was the conversion of the Richelieu wing, cleaning facades and exterior sculptures, transforming the three interior courtyards in areas of exposure (before used parking for the staff), tearing down the government offices and introducing skylights designed for an optimal viewing of the collections. The inverted pyramid, a new skylight that enters the Center light was also performed at this stage. With the new renovations of Pei, the Museum passed to double the public assistance to the 4.5 million visitors in the last century, they are now more than 10 million people, almost nothing.

Hall de entrada al museo
Entrance to the museum

Currently, is being conducted the last work, by now, remodelling of the Louvre. The «Pyramid» project was created with the intention of accommodating visitors since the massive influx creates endless queues and harms the acoustics of the place. Also will provide new educational spaces and leisure, a reorganization of the spaces under the pyramid and the creation of a new library (how I like the libraries). Specific tickets for groups will be established and will create a score of points of information by the entire Museum, also are added signalling elements and cutting-edge multimedia.

The architecture group of the remodelling has been Agence Search, in their hands have put an area of 7,000 square meters where to invest 40 million euros (5,700 euros per square metre) between 2015 and 2017. The works have begun, and not be provide for interruptions of the public assistance, so you have no excuse not to go to the Louvre, the Museum has an area of 210,000 square meters which 60.500 are galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions… Probably you won’t have time to visit all (unless you go with me) so you do not try! Let yourself be guided and, above all, take a few minutes to see all the buildings and its details, the museum is valuable not only for what it contains, also is it where contains it (forgive me Gioconda).

Interior del museo Louvre
Louvre Museum interior.

By the way, this reform of the Museum is free, they have made a good business… don’t believe me? Then I will give you my word, Word of Rodolfo, in the next installment I will explain the how and the why. Bye bye.

Disclosure: The characters that appear in this article, their different personalities and their relationships with each other and with the environment are part of a fiction. The author is not responsible for the views expressed in the article and has no business relationship with any of the companies listed on it.

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