‘Winged Victory Of Samothrace’ To Get $4 Million Makeover

Winged Victory of SamothraceThe “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” an iconic Greek statue housed in the Louvre in Paris, is going to undergo a major restoration, Agence France-Presse reports.

The museum will spend an estimated $4 million to clean the statue and repair structural problems. The statue will be out of sight to the public until the spring of 2014.

The statue was made sometime between 220 and 185 B.C. and is considered a masterpiece of ancient Greek art. It was discovered by a French archaeologist in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the Aegean Sea. It had been housed in a small building at the highest point of the religious sanctuary on the island.

The statue stands atop the prow of a warship (not visible in this shot courtesy MJM Photographie) and was intended to commemorate some unknown naval battle. Sadly, no dedicatory inscription has ever been found, so exactly what victory the Victory was celebrating will remain a mystery.

Louvre Opens New Department Of Islamic Art

Islamic art
The Louvre in Paris is opening a new Department of Islamic Art that will have one of the best such collections in the world.

One treasure is this ivory pyxis of Prince Al-Mugẖīra, shown here in a photograph courtesy Wikimedia Commons. It was made in 968 at Medina Azahara near Cordoba, Spain. Note that there are human figures on it. While many Islamic traditions forbid the depiction of people and animals, others such as the Moors of Spain, the Moghuls of India, the Persians of Iran, and the Ottomans of Turkey all had a long tradition of human portraiture.

This is just one of the many insights visitors will gain now that a refurbished and expanded wing of the museum has opened its doors with more than 30,000 square feet of exhibition space. The Department of Islamic Art will exhibit nearly 3,000 works, whose origins range from Spain to India and date from the 8th to the 19th century. The total collection numbers some 18,000 works from the Louvre’s collections and some on long-term loan from the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

The recent furor over the depiction of the Prophet Mohammed in an anti-Islamic movie has overlooked the fact that some Islamic traditions do create portraits of Mohammed, as this page from the University of Bergen makes clear. Of course these are positive portrayals, but they show that the Islamic world is not monolithic in its ideas of what can and cannot be shown. The Louvre did not state whether they have any such images on display.

Tourist Attractions Around The World: Fact vs. Fiction

The wonders of the modern world define our travels. Whether we admit it or not, there’s something heroic about standing on top of the Great Wall of China or hiking up to the crest above Machu Pichu for the trademark photograph. It’s those photos that fuel our travels and that convince our friends and families to make the same trips. It’s also those photos that define our perceptions of a destination and, in a way, cloud them.

What’s missing in most destination photos, though, is context. The Taj Mahal is a celebration of architecture and beauty in northern India, but the surrounding neighborhoods have developed an economy that is known for taking advantage of tourists. The Mona Lisa, shown above, is often buried by eager tourists.

To illustrate this contrast we put together a series of destination images before and after – as we see them on postcards and then in real life. At worst, the photos show how crowded and hectic some of the world’s destinations can sometimes be. But we prefer to think of them in a different light: they’re the destinations in real life, complete with tourist, busker and hawker. In a way, it’s a more complete story.

Next: The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France >>

[flickr image via thms.nl]

The Art Newspaper reveals most popular exhibitions and museums of 2011

art, Louvre
The folks over at the Art Newspaper have just released some interesting stats about the art world of 2011. Collecting a huge amount of data from hundreds of museums and galleries, they’ve discovered some important trends.

First off, the big shows are getting bigger. The top ten most popular art shows back in 1996, the first year they gathered figures, averaged 3,000 visitors a day. Last year’s top ten shows averaged almost 7,000 visitors a day.

For total attendance in 2011, the Louvre in Paris was way ahead with 8,880,000 visitors. Number two was the Met in New York City with slightly over 6,000,000 visitors. Paris and London dominated the top ten. Three Parisian museums made the top ten: the Louvre (#1), Centre Pompidou (#8), and Musée D’Orsay (#10), with a combined total of 15.2 million visitors. London boasts the British Museum (#3), National Gallery (#4), and Tate Modern (#5), with a combined total of 16 million.

For top exhibitions, last year had several blockbusters, with “The Magical World of Escher” coming out on top with 573,691 visitors. It was free at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. The most popular paid exhibition was “Kukai’s World: The Art of Esoteric Buddhism” at the Tokyo National Museum with 550,399 tickets sold.

There’s a lot more data in the report giving lots of insight into the booming world of major art exhibitions. It should be interesting to see what trends this year’s figures show.

Photo of the Louvre courtesy Ivo Jansch.

We should all dance in front of tourist attractions

Most people visit tourist attractions to see the sights and say that they’ve been there. They snap photos of the monuments, pose for a few more shots so that they can prove that they were there and then move on. One clever young lady, however, decided to dance in front of some of the UK and Europe’s most famous places. And when Andrea Dighton dances, it’s not just glorified running in place. Seriously, how many of these dance moves can you perform? While we’re at it, how many landmarks can you identify in the video?