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Le Grand Louvre
2 place du Palais Royal
Paris 1er

Whether people love or hate the pyramid which sits at the center of the Louvre’s plaza, the project—as large in scope as the image of the pyramid is well known—ultimately has to be appreciated at least for what it has accomplished in practical terms.

The Louvre is the most famous of the Grands Projets (Mitterrand’s 15 billion franc program to provide a series of modern monuments to symbolize France’s central role in art, politics, and world economy at the end of the twentieth century). It is not so much the pyramid, but the entrance space that it covers that is the most important part of the project. The brilliance of making an entrance to the world’s largest art museum by hollowing-out its plaza and constructing underground connections to its various wings could easily be lost amidst the unmistakable iconography of the pyramid. The entrance has rationalized and opened-up the collections of the Louvre to the throngs of museum-goers who visit its collections.

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In addition to the major undertaking in the plaza, collections were redistributed and several courtyards were covered and refurbished. Throughout, the restrained detailing of the stone walls and floors, simple geometries, and generously proportioned spaces serve as an appropriate backdrop against both new and old. The intricate steel connections and rods that support the pyramid are a twentieth century expression equivalent to the ornate carving in the masonry facades of the Palais du Louvre. The project also included the construction of a shopping mall, cultural center, an auditorium, and parking garages.

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Jay Berman 1999


How to visit

Take the Metro (Lines 1 or 7) to the station Palais Royale Musée du Louvre, and follow signs to the museum.

The museum is open every day except Tuesday.

Books and other web sites

Click the book title to view and to order direct from


3791316788_m.gif (14084 bytes) Paris: Contemporary Architecture
Andrea Gleiniger, Gerhard Matzig and Sebastian Redecke

A readable and particularly well illustrated description of 20 recent archiectural projects in Paris, including but not limited to the Grands Projets. Includes a map for visiting them.


0810937093_m.gif (14965 bytes) I.M. Pei: A Profile in American Architecture
Carter Wiseman

Not cheap, but popular, well reviewed, and by the author of Shaping a Nation - a master at architectural writing that is both accessible and insightful.

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