Sunday – The Museums of Paris

Museé Rodin and Napoleon’s Tomb

Rodin‘s "Thinker", at the Museé Rodin. The golden dome of Les Invalides can be seen in the background.

Museé d’Orsay
Louvre, As Seen From Orsay

Looking out one of Orsay’s large clocks onto the Louvre, across the Seine.

Van Gogh Good With Milk

I had to figth the urge to lick this painting. That looks like butter cream frosting to me. The Van Gogh paintings were some of the most popular at the Museé d’Orsay.

Louvre and Jardins des Tuileries
Louvre Pyramid

A close up of one of the intricate connections in the glass pyramid entrance to the Louvre, designed by I.M. Pei.

I have a entirely new definition for overwhelmed, after visiting the Louvre. While I’ve been to the Smithsonian and the British National Museum, neither really compare to the scope of the Louvre. The Louvre is part history of civilization museum and part art museum. It is a Noah’s ark of history, particulary in the arts area. I hated for us to be just highlight tourists, and miss out on so many of the fine artifacts and pieces there. However, we realized that even with the several hours we had planned on being there, we were only going to get to see the most famous items. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that they are spread out accross the museum. We first went to the Venus de Milo, which as perfect a statue as I have ever seen in it’s likeness of a person. If the sculpture didn’t use a model for this, I’d be amazed.

Louvre Storage

Oddly, I thought this was one of the coolest things I saw at the Louvre. It made the massive museum seem more human to see a display in the works.

We next made our way accross the campus of buildings to see the Code of Hammurabi. This takes some time, as the Louvre is actually made up of several different adjoining palaces and underground structures. You have to go up and down a number of stairs to make it from one wing to the far wing. Once there, we saw one of mankinds earliest set of civil codes, inscribed onto an eight foot tall black monolith. It has many different laws of ancient Mesopotamia, most of which seem to be punishble by death. It deals with structures thus:

If a poorly built house causes the death of a son of the owner of the house, then the son of the builder is put to death. (Sect. 230)

Well, eye-for-an-eye was all the rage in legal codes at the time.

On our way back through the Museum, we saw the Winged Victory of Samothrace (also a beautiful female likeness, but with no head in addition to no arms) and the French crown jewels. After seeing these crown jewels and having seen the English and Scottish crown jewels, Angela and I have to laugh at how much they look like plastic kids crowns. Of course, unlike the English and Scottish crowns, these haven’t been used in a while. We then proceed down a very, very long hallway to see the Mona Lisa. The crowd around her was like that at a small rock club. I waited/waded up to the front to take a few pictures and then moved on. Really, very anti-climactic. One thing I noticed at all of these icons of art and civilization: people having their photo taken in front of the object. It seems odd to me. I mean, doesn’t the fact you have the photo signify you were there? Why does having your mug in that photo make it more signifigant?

Centre Georges Pompidou

We stopped off at a internet and gaming shop along the way to the Pompidou Center. Angela had mentioned that some of these places had English, or QWERTY keyboards. The place we stopped at didn’t, so we got to learn about the AZERTY keyboard. I will say that, other than just swapping Q for A and other letters, many symbols are different as well. I was reduced to hunting and pecking out an e-mail to family and friends.

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