Quick trip to Paris to feed the mind and the spirit.

Thinking about all the great edifices, the avenues, the parks...

By the time the Louvre Museum opened the Richelieu installation, 1 billion dollars had been spent on renovation and the exhibition space had been effectively doubled. President Mitterrand, a socialist, is remembered as having a vision and operating with complete autonomy. Mitterrand forged ahead against tremendous public opposition, he hired Pei, a New York architect without first holding a design competition and the design approval process was kept away from the public eye.

Inner courtyard parking areas became cover exhibition spaces, an underground parking area hid 600 cars and 80 buses and a second pyramid, this time inverted, was completed. Today the formal garden spaces  became the focus of hot Parisian debate...in fact, it is unlikely that work crews will ever depart completely from the Louvre property.

Since the pyramid reception area opened, the visitor count has gone from 2 million to 5 million people. Interestingly, those people are mostly NorthAmerican tourists. The French people utilize the café and the shop, they frequent the movies and hear the lectures, but they generally don’t visit the exhibitions. There are three main works, one being the Mona Lisa, that visitors search out, almost to the exclusion of all else. In spite of who sees what, the collection grows. The work of the museum is preserved along with the history of France and 1300 Louvre employees are maintained. These employees have their own health club, a borrowing library and the services of a part-time social worker.

To wander Paris and see above and beyond, within and almost hidden from view the many great edifices and gallery spaces, is to acknowledge the strength, power and vanity of French leaders. 

picture postcard of images by Nora Camps feb/10


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