The Louvre Museum is widely renowned for its countless artifacts and beautiful artwork. The addition of the Louvre Pyramid, at the main entrance, gave the museum a face-lift and augmented the artistic splendor that embodies this structure. The contemporary pyramid architecture forms a baroque contrast with the old museum’s outline.
In 1981, French president Francois Mitterrand proposed a much needed expansion and modernization of the museum in what was dubbed the Grand Louvre Project. The past decade had seen a significant surge in tourism, but the confusing layout of the entrances and exits remained a maze to many. Mitterrand suggested a relocation of the Ministry of Finance from the Richelieu wing to enable the Louvre Museum to occupy the entire U-shaped building. I.M. Pei, a Chinese-American architect, was contracted to restructure the design and merge all wings with a common access point.
The architect coined the idea to construct a subterranean entrance to the museum in the central Napoleon courtyard with access to the three different arms. There would also be enough space left for shops and eateries. In a bid to craft a distinctive structure and yet avoid taking away from the Louvre fortress, Pei settled for a glass pyramid. The pyramid outline would form a beacon in the middle of the square, allowing sufficient space for entrance and other activities without masking the palace behind it.
The Design Today
The Louvre Pyramid is complemented by three smaller pyramids as well as sparkly pools with beautiful fountains. Day or night, the glass cladding gives a vivid view of the outside. The 793 diamond and triangular glass panes of the pyramid were specially made to be as transparent as possible. Furthermore, the steel girders that clamp the panes in place are slender and non-obstructive.
The creativity of the Pyramide du Louvre design did not stop there. When the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall was opened in the underpass, an inverted glass pyramid was constructed. The Pyramide Inversée mirrors Pei’s pyramid and is suspended above a small stone pyramid.
The Louvre Pyramid, along with the museum, combine to create a great experience for tourists and locals alike. Visitors flock to see the amazing architectural design of the pyramid and witness the wonderful artwork and artifacts kept within the museum that the pyramid welcomes them into.