When Beyonce and Jay-Z instagrammed photos of themselves at the Louvre a few weeks ago, I had to laugh to myself. They looked poised and serene as fuck, which was pretty much the opposite of how I felt when I was there a couple summers ago.
If memory serves, I had spent the day walking around Château de Versailles, and subsequently napping in the sunshine in its gardens. It was wonderful, but by the time I got back to Paris proper, I was tired. Still, I was running out of chances to check out the Louvre, so I ventured onward for an evening visit.
My grandma oft mentions how disappointed she was in seeing the Mona Lisa — how it’s much smaller than she had expected. So I was straight up imagining a version that fits in your pocket, and was pleasantly surprised when I saw it’s actually a reasonable size. There’s a lesson in lowering your expectations, kids!
What my grandma hadn’t quite prepared me for was the throngs of people surrounding the Mona Lisa. Back when she went, you weren’t allowed to take photos of it. I guess in the age of cellphones, museums now see such a rule as futile, so you’re allowed to take photos without a flash. And boy did people take advantage of it, as you can see in my photos of the scene below. People were swarming the piece of art and snapping pics as if Beyonce and Jay-Z were standing behind that plexiglass.
I had more fun people-watching at the Mona Lisa than actually taking in the Mona Lisa. Because unlike Beyonce and Jay-Z, I didn’t have the luxury of a private viewing to actually just look at it. I’d probably describe my viewing experience with words like frantic and frenzied.
I spent another hour or so wandering through the Louvre, taking in slightly less populated areas. I had wanted to also check out the Venus de Milo, but when a security guard informed me I’d gone the wrong way and would have to head back into the depths of the museum, my barking dogs told me it was time to go. I’ll just have to visit again one day.
The frenzied museum photography wasn’t an experience exclusive to the Louvre, of course. A week or so later when I visited the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, I saw a man walking through the gallery, taking video of the art on the walls on his phone, without even stopping to take in a single piece. Such experiences served as a real reminder to put the camera down once in a while and take in the view firsthand.