Someone once told me, “In order to see every piece of artwork at the Louvre, it would take approximately three months.” Her statement should give an idea of how immense this museum truly is. And with over 35,000 pieces on display at any given time, it has certainly earned its ranking as the “most visited museum” in the world.
I recently had the good fortune to explore the Louvre during evening hours (available Wednesdays and Fridays) which made my visit more intimate and memorable. Deciding to take advantage of the smaller crowds, I lingered around some lesser-known but equally exquisite masterpieces. Here are a few of the highlights of that magical night.
Inaugurated in 1989 to commemorate the bicentennial of the French Revolution, the Louvre’s iconic Pyramid entrance has been controversial eye sore ever since. Regardless, it sure is a lovely evening sight surrounded by majestic façades and candle-like lighting.
Granted, this is a pretty popular area. But with hundreds of ancient artifacts (circa 1069-30 B.C.) and an impressive collection of tombs (some with mummies in them) in dimly-lit rooms, how could you resist?
Enthralled by all the artwork, it’s easy to forget that the building housing the Louvre is also historically significant. Built originally as a fortress in 1190, the edifice’s moat and drawbridge have miraculously survived to become quite an impressive exhibit within an exhibit.
During evening visits the museum galleries rotate their opening times. And as they rely solely on natural light, it can feel a little spooky at night. My favorite “haunted” area is the 19th century Michelangelo Gallery featuring slaves – unfinished sculptures carved into Pope Julius II’s tomb.
The Regent Diamond
Naturally, a diamond caught my eye (job hazard) during my visit. Often coined “the finest diamond in the world”, the spectacular (and international) Regent Diamond was first discovered in 17th century India, subsequently cut in England and later purchased for the French crown in 1717. Magnifique!