The thought of visiting a major museum in its entirety had occurred to me before I undertook the challenge at the Louvre. But I’d never considered it a bucket list item because I didn’t have regular access to such a museum. That is, until I spent two months living in Paris this past summer.
Buying the membership was easy. I did it in person–80 euros and I was officially an Amis du Louvre with a membership card and a free plus one on Wednesday and Friday nights (which I used twice to share my findings).
At the start of the summer, I wasn’t even sure if I liked the Louvre. I’m not a fan of large crowds, and I’m also nervous around precious objects. With every visit, I confronted these fears.
And with every visit, I became more comfortable. With the layout. With all the people experiencing the art alongside me. And with the objects–some ancient, some Medieval, some more contemporary but still pretty old (most of the items in the Louvre date before the 1850s).
I started the summer in the Antiquities sections: Near Eastern, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman. I covered Decorative Arts, Islamic Arts, and the Arts of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas (one of my favorite sections). My last few visits were dedicated to European sculpture and painting–with the Italian painting wing (and the Mona Lisa, the biggest celebrity in the Louvre) coming near the end.
Over the course of ~15 visits (I should have kept track), I came to know the Louvre. I understood the wings–Sully, Denon, and Richelieu. I learned about its long history as a palace in the Medieval Louvre section. And I came to understand that experiencing the Louvre meant experiencing it with others.
I may have started the summer unsure of how I felt about the Louvre, but I ended the summer loving it. Walking around the museum’s corridors examining 16th century tapestries in wonder–discovering the history of the world with people from all parts of the world alongside me.
As a conditional item (conditional on proximity to a major museum), visiting all the departments in the Louvre was an incredible undertaking to check off my bucket list. And it’s inspired more bucket list items for me. The funerary art I saw at the Louvre–the mummies and coffins and gravestones–have made me eager to visit museums and ancient burial sites in Italy, Greece, and Egypt.
It’s also made me think about what other items I should put on my bucket list given my current conditions–living the Southeastern US. I haven’t visited Savannah or Charleston or any major Civil War sights. I’ve been to the King Center in Atlanta but there’s a lot more I’d like to see connected to the Civil Rights movement.
Learning to love the Louvre has renewed my love for learning, and I’m excited to keep adding items to my bucket list and hopefully checking them off.