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  • Writer's pictureAmber Haslam

Why I don’t recommend Visiting the Louvre

Updated: Aug 3, 2023

For saying that the Louvre is one of Paris’ most popular destinations, I found it surprisingly unenjoyable and even disrespectful. For me, the overcrowding of both people and artwork made it hard to appreciate some of the magnificent pieces being showcased. Furthermore, I felt that the layout of the museum unequally promoted certain exhibits, mostly those originating from western Europe, whilst other exhibit seemed under valued and pushed to the side. The whole set up seems entirely profit driven! I will explain all these opinions in this piece of writing but first I want to make clear that this is not a criticism towards any of the artworks or artists themselves, more so to the management of the museum.

First of all, and probably most significantly, the place is too big! It’s genuinely like navigating a maze. Not only is this stressful for the visitor but it also makes it impossible to see all the sections of exhibits. To put this into context the museum has 5 floors and each one could easily take you up to two hours. Each floor is massive and filled to the brim with exhibits; I found that there were so many pieces in one place that it was impossible to take them all in and I think this leads to most of the exhibits being bypassed, underappreciated, and forgotten about. Take a look for yourself! Link to a map of the Louvre

You might think that with all this space at least the place wouldn’t become overcrowded with people, but that’s not true. At points rooms were so packed with people that you could not move, never mind enjoy the artwork and I got a sense that most people there were just making b-lines for the most famous pieces, such as the Mona Lisa, and missing other pieces that are just as good. This previous idea leads perfectly onto my next point…

The setup of the Louvre is elitist!

This may seem like a bold claim but it’s just something I couldn’t help feeling as I walked around the Louvre and it’s not something I would have expected. The classic renaissance paintings of western Europe are situated in the grand main hall, which I must admit is very beautiful, of the museum, probably the easiest place to find. This area gets so overcrowded, and people seem completely obsessed with the paintings in this section, like they’re in the presence of a holy being. And whilst the exhibits are undoubtedly amazing the whole thing feels rather overhyped. For example you could not get anywhere near the famous Mona Lisa without joining a queue, of around an hour and a half when I visited. Needless to say, I did not join it.

The Queue to see the Mona Lisa

Now let’s compare this with some of the other exhibition sections, in particular I will focus on the Islamic arts section as this is where I noticed the elitist division to it’s extreme. I had seen this section indicated on the map and decided that I wanted to visit it. First of all it felt miles away from the main hub of the museum, almost tucked away in some dark corner near the cleaning cupboards. It was near impossible to find as there were no signs telling you how to get there, bearing in mind the were signs saying ‘Mona Lisa this way’ at every opportunity. However, most shockingly, when I did get to the Islamic arts section it wasn’t actually in the museum’s main building at all. In fact it had been put in a literal tent outside of the building! Unsurprisingly when I got to this section it was practically void of people. Finally, only a few of the pieces had descriptive plaques underneath them, unlike those in the European renaissance section where they all had one.

An intricate piece of tilework in the Islamic art section

I found this not just frustrating but most of all saddening. I couldn’t help but feel that people were missing out on some of the stunning artworks of other cultures due to the layout of the museum. Certain exhibits seemed to be prioritised over others purely based on their origin and I feel this discredits individual artists and their cultures when really, I believe, these things can’t and shouldn’t be compared.

Continuing along the line of culture, I felt at times that some exhibits were being disrespected and exploited for a profit. A key example that comes to mind is the Ancient Egyptian section of the Louvre. Here there is a room filled with around 40 or so sarcophagus’, sacred Ancient Egyptian style coffins. The fact that the Ancient Egyptians created these sarcophagus’ to be the eternal dwellings of the deceased in the afterlife, only for them to be emptied in order to be showcased in a museum 5000 years later and miles away in a Paris museum seems wrong. However, I do understand that this is a recurring point of contention within most museums and not solely the Louvre. I also accept the argument of the educational and creative benefits that come from showing these magnificent artworks.

Now, have you ever heard the phrase ‘exit via the gift shop’? It’s used to describe places that try to squeeze every last penny out of you by making you leave through their own shop.

Well the Louvre takes this saying to a whole new extreme!

They have created an entire shopping centre that you must exit through called the le Carrousel de Louvre, interestingly owned by Australian company Westfield. Oh and before I forget! The only toilets in the whole place are located in this shopping centre and you have to pay 1.5 euros to use them. After my extremely tiring and quite frankly frustrating trip to the Louvre this was the last thing that I wanted to be met with. By the end I was desperate to get out of the place and back into the fresh air. This is not how a museum containing some of the world’s most beautiful artwork should make you feel!

So this is why I don’t recommend visiting the Louvre. It’s too big and too crowded that you can’t appreciate the actual pieces of artwork. By the end you come out feeling both mentally and physically drained by this overwhelming experience. Finally, if you really are set on visiting the Louvre, I would advise that you look at a map of the Louvre and plan your route beforehand, identifying the sections you want to see. Do not turn up, like I did naively, expecting to casually wander round and see it all, you won’t!


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