Humanity Hallows Issue 5 Out Now!
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By Thomas Rushton
Not being a huge enthusiast of typical tourist activities, I still decided to give The Louvre a visit when I visited Paris in December ’16. For those who don’t know, The Louvre is the largest museum in the world, known to many for being the home to worldwide famous portrait, the Mona Lisa (Leonardo da Vinci).
Before visiting The Louvre I was sceptical as to whether the popularity of the historical monument was due to visitors having a genuine interest in art or whether they were visiting just so they could tell friends or family they had been to the largest museum in the world.
With The Louvre attracting 9.26 million visitors in 2014 alone it is safe to say the nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory the museum holds definitely get an eyeful. But for what reason do people visit?
I decided to put my thoughts into practise and spoke to student Daniel Kelly, 21, Liverpool University, to discuss his intensions for visiting the museum.
Had you heard of The Louvre before you holidayed in Paris?
“Yes I’d heard of it and knew some background info but that’s about it.”
So what attracted you to visit when in Paris?
“I suppose curiosity more than anything. I’m not a massive art fan or anything like that but I had it on my list to visit and knew I would have felt I missed out if I didn’t. It was something to tick off the Paris sightseeing list.”
Are you glad you visited?
“Definitely! There was some really interesting things going on in there and the building itself is full of history, which I liked as well. One of the rooms had paintings on the ceiling of zodiac signs and some facts about each one which was fascinating to read.”
Has visiting converted you into an art fan?
“Don’t get me wrong I’m not going to start buying famous paintings or anything, but I would visit another arts museum . I enjoyed it a lot more than I originally thought I would. I loved learning the history of the building and theirs an actual section showing some of the original structure. That was probably my favourite part of the entire visit. I suppose seeing Mona Lisa with your own two eyes is pretty cool too.”
From what you could see, what type of people visited?
“Obviously me and my friends, we were typical tourists visiting to see what it was all about and I think, I might be wrong for assuming but the majority of people in there where the same. A lot of people were taking photographs and using selfie sticks. I doubt they knew much about the art. Although their was an option to hire a tablet and headphones and you were talked round by the video tour guide and a lot of people were using these, so some visitors must have some genuine interest in the art displayed.”
Price wise, do you think it was worth it? How much did you pay?
“I’d definitely say it was worth it. We paid about €13, the others I went with didn’t complain either. Its one of those things that you can either make last five minutes or five hours. We took our time looking round, so definitely got our moneys worth if anyone is worried about that. If the museum was to charge anymore we probably wouldn’t have visited, as I’ve said we was generally just curios to spend some time looking round ”
Do you think the art displayed or the reputation of the museum attracts visitors?
“Personally, I would go with the reputation. Before I visited, they were the only two facts I really knew about The Louvre. I didn’t know much else. Obviously after visiting, I can now tell people the other things the museum had to offer which I enjoyed. They had a man painting a portrait of a portrait for the visitors to watch, again seeing the original bricks and structure… also the fact they had staff around to assist and explain things was helpful. The Louvre is definitely worth a visit. Just to even see the décor, it really was unbelievable.”
From my conversation with Daniel, it is pretty clear the tourism industry is what brings in a lot of The Louvre’s profit as well as keeping the number of visitors so high.
Currently, the majority of visitors visit for a sightseeing perspective. Researching the background of The Louvre in more depth, I discovered that when The Louvre very first opened, the public were granted free access, three days a week, which was viewed as a luxury. At this point The Louvre only held 537 pieces of art, the majority of them being confiscated church property. It wasn’t until the Second French Empire that the museum gained a further 20,000 pieces.
Nowadays, there are other aspects of The Louvre that will be attracting thousands of visitors. For example ‘The Pyramid’, which is now the main entrance to The Louvre. The Pyramid is a huge glass structure, built in 1989 and is visited by tourists for the same purpose they would visit, for example, The Empire State building.
Many can play with the fact that the art displayed in The Louvre isn’t appreciated to its full extent. However, it is clear tourists appreciate the art in a complete different way. Tourists may not appreciate the paintings for its artistic values but it became clear after speaking to Daniel that The Louvre took away the ‘boring’ reputation most art galleries hold. They viewed the art in a different light from an actual art expert and still enjoyed their visit.
Apparently, the Paris attacks in late 2015 are said to have cut the number of visitors to The Louvre by around 20%, forcing the museum to tighten security measures. The Louvre now has airport style security, requiring visitors to walk through a metal detector and have their bags searched. These security measures are understandable considering The Louvre is said to be the second most visited museum in the world, closely behind The Palace museum in China.
If and when you visit The Louvre, be sure to request a tour guide in your language. They cater for almost any. It came in handy when I visited purely to assist with directions. The size of the actual building made it difficult to guess where things where. The tour guides are also full of fun facts. And, like Daniel said, you can make your visit last five minutes or five hours, so if you are really pushed for time the tour guides are extremely informative and can assist you with a speedy visit.
I enjoyed my own visit to The Louvre and I even attended a day were students entered for free, which in my opinion gave me even more reason to visit. I would definitely visit again, even if it meant paying the small entrance fee. As like Daniel, I was pleasantly surprised at what The Louvre had to offer. The Louvre is a tourist magnet in Paris and I would urge anyone to visit.