Posted by Kathleen Alva
This past winter break, I undertook a 12-day independent study of cathedrals with fellow 13’s Adam and Sam. While backpacking through Germany, France and England, we stopped in Paris, eating everything, layering all of the clothes we could find, and, of course, visiting the Louvre. We discovered that ten distinct emotional stages present themselves when you attempt to view 70,000 works of art in four hours.
- Awe: Even the anticipation of an hour-long line cannot dampen your excitement as you trek toward the pyramid. While standing in line, if you’re lucky, a tourist behind you will provide free entertainment by singing all the American pop songs he has heard, despite having little experience with the English language. Entering the museum, the escalators go everywhere, kids are underfoot, and the map has so much… art. Overwhelmed, you randomly select an escalator and come up with a game plan. “Four hours,” you say. “Plenty of time,” you say.
- Bliss: Finally amidst the art, you get your bearings and meander through the exhibitions, fangirling over the masterpieces that people skip in a hurry to see Mona Lisa. In your mind, you have some sort of connection with the three other people who linger in the Italian Renaissance hallway amidst the multitudes rushing to and from the “highlights.”
- Realization: Despite the beauty of the art, reality sets in. You begin to realize that the Louvre is actually enormous, and there is no way that you will be able to see all of the art in the museum.
- Panic: Refusing to accept this fact, you begin walking like you’re on the 2016 Olympic race walking team. Centuries fly by as you ditch the map and run up all the stairs to save time. All of the stairs.
All. Of. Them.
In the moment, you believe that experiencing “Witches through the Ages” on the top floor as quickly as possible will totally be worth it. It is, but this exertion has a price.
- Frustration: “Why are there so many people here? Don’t they know I have art to see? Yes, 7 ft tall man, you should definitely stand right in front of my 5 ft tall self.”
This is not your finest moment, but your passive-aggressive inner monologue game is strong.
- Hysteria: Your frenzy reverts your usually cheesy humor to that of an immature thirteen year old boy. The locations, titles, and facial expressions of sculptures become fodder for jokes. Eventually you begin asking others tourists to take pictures of you re-enacting sculpture poses, and then the tourists ask you to take a picture of their re-enactment. One tourist group has to clarify that they don’t want you to take a picture OF them, but WITH them. You can’t decide whether you are more flattered or concerned, but take the picture with them anyway.
- Exhaustion: Remember all those stairs you climbed? Yeah, you need to take a seat. Also, you’ve consumed so much art that your head is spinning. You feel guilty since there’s so much more that you want need to see….buuuut this bench is comfy. At least you can see a Rodin from your seated position, so all is not completely lost.
- Second Wind: Cursing the time you wasted sitting down, you embark on a whirlwind tour of the rest of the museum. Your travel companions (Sam), who may be award-winning athletes (cross country), move through the exhibits with such ease and speed, you begin to seriously question how your ancestors survived with such short legs.
- Devastation: As the exhibitions close and security guards shepherd you toward exits, you see a 6-year-old throwing a tantrum at having to leave. You have never empathized with a rebellious cause so completely.
- Nostalgia: You spend the rest of your life trying to figure out how you will be able to return to the Louvre. Until we meet again, you beautiful pyramid, you.