Just before heading back home, I got to tick something important off my bucket-list – the newly restored 18th-Century Decorative Arts Galleries at the Louvre. The galleries have been closed since 2005 during the multi-million dollar renovation, which was overseen by interior designer and French decorative-arts connoisseur Jacques Garcia. The collections have been installed as a series of period rooms and themed galleries that cover the reign of Louis XIV and the Regency, the height of the Rococo style, and the return to classicism and the reign of Louis XVI.
Some rooms represent fairly intact interiors, while others bring together stylistically coherent groupings of furniture and objects within a recreated decorative setting. One of the aspects that I liked the best were all of the multimedia installations where visitors can listen to information about the history of where items came from, the people who owned them, and how they were used.
A lot of the work was carried out due to the financial support of the American Friends of the Louvre. The word for this sort of patron is un mécénat (uhn may-sen-ah). The donations of these sponsors are absolutely essential to preserving France’s national artistic heritage. The restored galleries at the Louvre are stunning and well worth a visit.