The Louvre Museum's Transformation: From Royal Palace to Public Galleries with Dr. Ana-Joel Falcón-Wiebe

The Louvre Museum's Transformation: From Royal Palace to Public Galleries with Dr. Ana-Joel Falcón-Wiebe


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One of the many jewels of French cultural and political history, the Louvre, has undergone radical transformations adapting to the demands of its patrons and adopting the values of the communities it serves. Scholarship on the museum’s history abounds. However, the means of transformation employed, especially during the institution’s most radical change, are often overlooked. That the Louvre first originated as Philip II’s medieval fortress is a well-known fact. That it rose as the epitome of Renaissance elegance under Francis I is also widely researched. However, no transformation was as drastic as its passage from a royal palace to a public museum in a wave of Revolutionary initiatives designed to commemorate the first anniversary of the young republic in 1793. 

Birthed out of conflict and shaped by Enlightenment ideals, this national museum was given the voice of rites and rituals at a time of drastic secularization during the movement led by the intellectual and political luminaries of the Age of Reason. We will explore the many ways in which this iconic architectural marvel became a sign of revolutionary ideology and an emblem of freedom and civilization over oppression and tyranny. We will journey through Paris following the eighteenth-century curated path designed to transform a royal subject into a citizen of the nation on a day’s journey that includes baptism in the waters of the citizenry and a cleansing ritual at the newly inaugurated national museum. 

Together we will unveil the public relations campaign that transformed a symbol of tyranny into a sign of unity, national pride, and collective identity. We will walk, if only virtually, through the gates and liminal spaces, through the halls and curatorial structures that weave a story of ritual, a narrative of nationhood, and a tale of becoming. We will discover how visitors still today actively participate in this narrative, whether consciously or not. We will learn why key masterpieces occupy strategic placements in galleries of physical and ideological confluence, and we will learn to identify the authorial voices of curatorial and architectural narratives. 

Led by Ana-Joel Falcón-Wiebe, an expert on nineteenth-century French art, this Conversation will equip participants with the fine-tuned skills to read the subscript and enter the museum space confidently and knowledgeably. Designed to inform curiosity and future travels, participants will come away with an increased awareness of museological and curatorial narratives for a more meaningful and personal museum experience. 

Dr. Ana-Joel Falcón-Wiebe is an art historian, educator, and curator specializing in nineteenth-century French art. Her doctoral dissertation surveyed the interconnectivity of national identities in nineteenth-century Paris through acquisitions of seventeenth-century Spanish artworks by private collectors. Born and raised in Mexico, Ana-Joel has lived in Canada and France and currently resides in the USA. Her work and pedagogy are flavored by her penchant for cross-cultural and interdisciplinary learning experiences and approaches. While she is a nineteenth-century French art specialist, her interests are broad and her experience speaks of a confluence of early modern and contemporary issues in art. Working at the Cabinet de Dessins, Musée du Louvre, her research on sixteenth and seventeenth-century Italian prints and drawings culminated in the publication of the department’s most comprehensive and up-to-date catalog of Italian drawings. She assisted in curating major exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada on Caravaggio and at the Brooklyn Museum of Art on Francisco Oller’s Impressionist oeuvre. Concomitant to her curatorial career Ana-Joel has taught Art History for thirteen years and currently holds a position as Adjunct Faculty at the Cleveland Institute of Art. In addition to her academic and museological achievements, Ana-Joel is an artist and opened her own studio in 2020 at the service of women who have suffered abuse in the context of domestic violence and the ongoing pandemic.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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