People go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. She is one piece in thousands housed there, but she is the one people want to see. Everyone knows her and her half smile whether they care about art or not.
We met the missionaries on Monday for our Louvre exploration. They arrived just before it opened and were soon inside and on their way to see her. We got in half an hour after them, passing quickly through the line for people with tickets and museum passes. We went to join the Elders at her side.
You climb a grand staircase to reach her. The Winged Victory of Samothrace stands poised at the top, ready to launch into flight to escape the visiting throngs. Without her head, she is mercifully blind to the thousands of eyes that gaze upon her every day as they make their artistic pilgrimage to the Mona Lisa.
After proceeding through a room filled with hundreds of beautiful Italian religious paintings which they hardly notice, the throngs reach their goal. Lisa hangs on a wall all her own set in the middle of room 6. Behind her curtain of glass she watches unperturbed the press of art worshippers before her. They cannot cross the barrier or reach through the glass to disrupt her solitude. They admire her from a safe distance and leave her in peace. We admired her from our spot behind the crowds, then turned to the rest of the art.
The Louvre is huge and we didn't have a great plan of attack. We went to African, oceanic, and native American art. Then, we were stuck and had to figure out a way to get to the next area we wanted to see. If you've been to the Louvre and seen the signs that say 'sens de visite' or something along those lines and have an arrow showing which way they suggest you go, you can imagine our path because it almost always went against the arrow. We saw mummies and statues, paintings of Mary and Jesus, some crazy African art, and some fancy furniture from the time of Napoleon. Becca took my phone for a while and got a ton of pictures. Her goal was to take a photo of everything. Until I decided the battery had to be saved and took it away.
We spent the afternoon in the park, Tuileries, just in front of the Louvre. While Kip and the kids enjoyed ice cream and crepes, I took a quick trip into L'Orangerie to see the Monet water lillies in person. They were beautiful. They were the object of my pilgrimage, the paint thick on the giant canvases, the colors vibrant. This was where I went to connect with my spiritually artistic side. I walked through the first room of Monet murals, admiring each panel. I went through the second, viewing them from every angle. Then back to the first room for another look. I went then down below and found some beautiful things in the lower level. Before leaving, I returned one more time to the two rooms of Water Lillies. If the rest of the family had not been waiting, I would have sat down to soak them in and stayed there for hours.
Outside, the kids and Kip had grown restless. Frankly, I hadn't expected them to last as long as they had. We found a play area with spinning toys and slides and the kids set to work befriending the other American tourists playing there. They were busy for over an hour while Kip and I relaxed in the shade. It made a nice end to our day of museums.