March 4, 1988 marks the day that construction began on the glass Pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre. I. M. Pei’s controversial design opened up access to all of the galleries and provided much needed space for the administrative backbone of the Louvre. When I took a course at the Louvre a few years ago, the museum architect told us that Pei had considered a cone and a cube but eventually settled on the pyramid for its universality. Not only does the Louvre have a magnificent Egyptology department, but many other world cultures have pyramidal structures, including Africa, China, India, Mexico, and Indonesia. I never visited the Louvre pre-Pyramid, but the layout was apparently incredibly cumbersome, with many thousands of visitors all arriving at the feet of Winged Victory each day.
Like most architectural innovations, the Pyramid had (and has) its detractors. The main complaint is that the ultra-modern glass structure doesn’t fit with the centuries old building that surrounds it. AIso, in the summer, the Pyramid does get rather hot, and if you’re in a long line snaking toward the admission, you could be overcome. A quicker way in is through the Carousel du Louvre entrance, but most first-time visitors want the spectacular entry to the temple of culture.
Today’s expression, entrer dans le décor (entray dahn luh daykor), literally means “to enter into the scenery” but figuratively means “to drive off the road.” It’s hard to imagine the scenery of Paris without the big glass Pyramid, even though it’s only been here the blink of an eye when compared to some of its ancient archetypes.
- The Louvre-Lens in France: A Chase Scene Waiting to Happen (unfinishedman.com)
- A Stroll Along the Masters in the Louvre (bellaremyphotography.com)
- Louvre May Get Foreigner as New Chief as Hollande Budget Shrinks – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Iconic Louvre work ‘Winged Victory’ to be restored (dawn.com)