To all medievalists: skip queuing for Mona Lisa and visit the newly opened parts of Louvre where its medieval history is told
This summer (2016) Louvre opened the Pavillon d’Horloge (the Clock Pavillion) with a new exhibition presenting the history of the castle. The intent is to address such questions, visitors may have, as: what traces can still be seen from the major periods of construction of the palace? Which kings actually lived there? Why did it become a museum? How were the first Egyptian sculptures acquired? What are the Louvre’s current large-scale projects?
The Pavillon de l’Horloge spans three levels in the Sully wing:
Level -1: From palace to museum
On the lower floor, in the medieval moat, visitors will learn about the rich story of a fortress transformed into a royal palace, before becoming a museum. Foremost, visitors are invited to explore the monumental dimension of the military architecture built by Philip Augustus in 1190.
Level 1: One museum, many collections
On the first floor, it is possible to visit the Hall of St. Louis. Here visitors will discover the varied and rich collections of the Louvre, the story of how they were established, and different trails within the museum. On show will be a medieval parade helmet and other finds from the excavations, which were undertaken between 1983 – 1992, when the Pyramid was constructed. This is the oldest hall in the palace still in existence. Another room, which has been opened up is the chapel, which presents a tiny selection of representative pieces of art, which derives from the different collections, which Louvre has been built upon.
Level 2: The Louvre today and tomorrow
Finally on the second floor, visitors will better understand the breadth of the Louvre with news not only of its current projects and missions (acquisitions, restorations, scientific research), but also its satellite locations (Lens, Abu Dhabi), and its partners, explaining that the Musée du Louvre is part of an extensive network of museums in France. The new centre of interpretation has been dedicated to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan. Thus, Louvre honours a controversial leader of the Arab world who denounced democracy
The new exhibition has cost € 7 mill and has been widely commented upon; not entirely complimentary. However, it is still a nice place to start exploring medieval Paris.
Pavillon de l’Horloge au Louvre : un résultat médiocre pour un coût astronomique.
By Didier Rykner.
In: La tribune de l’Art ,July 2016