by Zoya Mirzaghitova
The Louvre—the world’s mecca of art museums; it’s legendary, spectacular, perpetually crowded, overrated?—maybe, but definitely very, very big. Despite all of its qualities, the thing I hear most about the Louvre is that you can’t see it all in one day. The truth is that you can. On my first visit to the Louvre, we saw every corner of it in just under seven hours, and this includes a lunch break in one of its many cafes. However, what I realized while walking around the museum was how true it really is that you can’t see it all in one day. You can physically walk around and see everything but the size of the collection is so overwhelming that by the end you either glaze over or find some other way to adapt to the amount of information coming at you at every turn.
I found myself gravitating towards the familiar. Despite this wealth of art that I have never seen, I only seem to have felt the need to look at what I knew and had already seen in reproductions or online. It was amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I grew to appreciate smaller galleries and the white cube much more after that visit.
In a small art gallery you can encounter new works and really look at and consider them. There is too much to new information to truly absorb in the Louvre; even if you choose one room of the museum, it is usually still so large and so packed that you encounter the same problem. In the background, there is always more to see which makes it hard to focus. And then there is the building. It is beautiful and, especially for a resident of North America, excitingly antique. But along with the already-overwhelming collection of art, and the glimpses of the Paris skyline in the windows, I would say that it is not only impossible to see all of Louvre in one day, it is difficult to experience art in the Louvre at all with its combination of exciting, but also overwhelming, aspects.
Being back “home” between the white walls of Satellite is very comforting. In the white cube, despite all its debated problems, art can be the centre of attention. The gallery can become a contemplative space for reflection and not a blurred parade of “ahs” and “ohs.”