La Pyramid du Louvre was designed by the Chinese-American I.M. Pei, who also is responsible for the National Art Gallery in Washington, The Rock & Roll Museum in Cleveland and the Miho Museum in Japan, and today forms the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. It is located in the Main Courtyard (Cour Napoleon) and was commissioned by Francois Mitterand, the then French President, and took only 5 years to complete being finished in 1989. It was created because the Louvre original main entrance could no longer handle the amount of visitors it had each day.
The structure composes of 673 pieces of glass and stands 20.m (70ft) high with a square base having sides of 35m (115ft). No sooner had it been finished than controversy started as its very modern appearance stands in direct contrast to the more classical architecture of the Louvre. Doubter however were soon won over and people started to praise the successful merger of the “old” and the “new” or the “ultra-modern” and the “classical”. The Pyramid is actually one of four, with two smaller ones at its side and an “inverted” Pyramid that acts as a skylight for the underground mall.
Like most things associated with the Louvre, legend is not far away and when the original brochure was published it claimed that there were 666 pieces of glass in the structure. Several newspapers and magazines picked up on the story claiming the Pyramid was a symbol for devil worship as it represented the “number of the beast”. The confusion was resolved with an official count of 673 (603 rhombus shaped, 70 triangular). The myth returned with Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” with the main character, , claiming the 666 pieces again.
Today, I.M. Pei’s Pyramid has become one of the icons of the city and a must see for any visitor to Paris.
The Louvre Pyramid is seen whilst illuminated on the Optional Experience
PAR01 -Seine Cruise & Illumination