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Crowding Venus

The last time I visited the Louvre, photography was permitted everywhere. I remember quite distinctly finding it impossible to actually see the Mona Lisa on account of the flashes going off nearly continuously, reflecting on the glass in front of it. It was vaguely like trying to observe quantum particles -- one could have one's picture taken in front of it, or one could actually look at it, but not both.

As of this visit, photography is prohibited throughout part of the museum, including the area containing the Mona Lisa. The result is that -- though still crowded -- one can actually look at and enjoy the art.

However, photography -- including the use of flashes -- is still permitted throughout the rest of the Louvre. My favorite thing there is and always has been the Venus de Milo -- it just amazes me to be so close to the most iconic sculpture in human history. But it has become very difficult to have any kind of a joyous experience with it on account of the flash-popping crowd that surrounds it:

Crowding Venus

This is the crush of people trying to get close to the statue so that they can photograph their friends in front of it. Virtually all the people in the crush were obvious tourists, most of them from Asia. I can't blame them for wanting to have their photo taken -- Kelsey and I have done the same at various indoor and outdoor locations around Paris. But the sheer popularity of this work of art, combined with the limited space around it, has caused the photography to degrade or even destroy the experience for everyone else. I presume this is why the Louvre has prohibited photography in part of the museum. Perhaps it's time for them to extend this -- or to set aside photography-free hours when the art can simply be enjoyed for what it is.

Incidentally, the Musée d'Orsay across the river allows photography, but not flash photography. It makes for a much more pleasant viewing experience in the most popular sections (like the fifth floor, about which I'm sure I'll blog later).


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