Thursday, March 17, 2016

Medieval Paris: A Fortress Uncovered

The remnants of the Medieval Louvre uncovered during a structrual 
excavation.  Now, this section is the start to the "highlights" tour.
I’ve been to the Louvre twice, so I didn’t feel a pressing need to stare with hundreds of people at the admittedly beautiful artwork there.  Still, I went to the Louvre this visit with a very specific task in mind.  In the Sully wing of the Louvre, an exhibit on the history of the museum culminates with displays from the architectural dig that the museum carried out in order to determine how much more support was needed for construction they planned to undertake. (That construction is a ridiculous mall, by the way, but that’s for another post.)

Included at the end of the exhibit are items that were found
during the excavation.  
The Louvre was important in King Charles time because even when he moved to St. Pol, he kept his library and his treasure at the Louvre in the old Falconry.  King Charles’ library housed over 971 volumes at his death, many of those volumes finely illuminated manuscripts and translations of Greek and Roman philosophers and thinkers.

When the Louvre opened as a museum in 1793, it was not Charles Louvre, but the lavish 15th century building built by Francis I on the destroyed foundation of the Medieval palace.

The current exhibit highlights the Medieval Louvre, uncovering its secrets and providing a glimpse into the king’s fortress.  To make it more appealing a contemporary installation of neon words projected onto the ancient walls breaks up the looming walls and towers.  But the neon wasn’t necessary for me.  I found walking by the towers that Christine walked past inspiration enough.  Here’s the beginning of a poem, “Coming Home,” that I wrote after my visit.

Coming Home

Tourists bustle by. Children sit
impatiently before their teachers.
One asks if there were alligators in the moat.
Around me, a dozen languages
hurry through this dull start
to their highlights’ tour. They’ll rush
from here to the Mona Lisa,
the Vitruvian man,
the winged victory of Salamachus.
I’ll stay here and walk the ramparts,
immersed in (her)story.

The exhibit was crowded with children when I was there. Yes, one really
did ask if there were alligators in the moat.

No comments:

Post a Comment