Cover Image: The Louvre

The Louvre

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Member Reviews

Many thanks to NetGalley and Grove Atlantic for a copy of this text in return for an honest review.

Throughout Gardner’s fast paced history of the Western world’s most important encyclopedic art museum, we encounter, albeit briefly, the lives of the sovereigns, architects, and artists who crafted this fortress, turned palace, turned museum.  This book reinforces the belief that buildings with such dense and overwhelming stories as the Louvre have ghosts that linger, that affect our interpretation of that space today.
Gardner demonstrates his ability as an art critic through rich descriptions of the Louvre’s collection.  These passages are fascinating introductions to many of the museum’s greatest treasures, but they may leave more advanced students of art history seeking more. Still, Gardner’s text makes for an engaging primer and reference to the study of the Louvre.  He has skillfully researched and synthesized 800 years of history in under 400 pages—an impressive feat, though an approach that values breadth over depth.  He deploys a chronological approach to the narrative; yet many of his most interesting insights occur when he poetically connects the practices of the past to those of today.
Gardner’s history concludes with the opening of the Grande Louvre expansion in 1989.  While this is a fitting end for his love letter to a treasured institution, he fails to contextualize the Louvre within current conversations affecting museums.  Perhaps this was not the book to consider the implications of colonialism, but a nod to current cultural debates may have improved the epilogue’s saccharine outlook.  
Overall, I would recommend this book to those keen on acquainting themselves with the Louvre’s expansive history.  It might just leave you wanting more.
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It was a very informative book! It was more like a reference book to me where you are learning facts and more about the history of the museum and how it became this Parisian icon. It is a good book if you are planning a trip there or just want to learn more about the famed museum. I expected more pictures in here about the museum and the changes over the years. It also talks about French history and how it played a role in the museum.
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THank you for the ARC!
I unfortunately DNF'd this book - I do plan to pick it again in the future once things settle down.
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The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World's Most Famous Museum by James Gardner is an extraordinarily researched book on one of the most amazing museums I have visited. This book is chocked full of information, stories, and lots of behind-the-scenes that The Louvre has to offer. I have been to The Louvre twice and had no idea of the extensive history of the building. Do not read this looking for a fluffy overview, it is expansive and full of details that will fascinate. This book is not about the art found inside the walls, but rather the rich history of the building itself.
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The Louvre tells the story of the amazing building and its inhabitants from its beginning as a relatively small fort on the banks of the Seine River through its multiple renovations up to its current standing as the world’s largest and most storied museum. 

While the content of the books is fascinating, it is sometimes hard to follow. The author seems to assume the reader is familiar with French history, notables, geography and the layout of the Louvre. Since its been over 50 year since I was in Paris, I often had to resort to researching on the Internet to find out what he was referencing. I read an ARC from NetGalley which had minimal illustrations and no plan of the Museum. I went to the book page on Amazon and was able to Look Inside the final Kindle version and see a map, which I snipped and pasted and printed and that helped somewhat. I spent as much time researching as I did reading, which broke the continuity of my reading. I don’t know what the hardback or paperback versions had to help with visualizing what the text covered. 

I would recommend the book to anyone who is familiar with the Louvre and French history. It would make a great companion to a trip to Paris and the museum and its surroundings. There was an amazing amount of detail and information and I’m glad that NetGalley and the publisher allowed me a copy of the book. If I ever make it back to Paris, it will definitely go with me.
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Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley and the author for the opportunity for review. My review opinions are my own. 

 I highly recommend this book for all who are interested in The Louvre and its treasures. I suggest taking your time with this book and immersing yourself into the history of The Louvre. I knew some of the history of the Louvre but this is so detailed it was exemplary in the scope of information.  The author fully details here the history not only of the museum but of the land the museum is on and its meaning to French history.   I enjoyed the descriptions of the various times of history of France as they relate to The Louvre.  The collections here are of course most enjoyable to read about especially for armchair travelers.  I highly recommend this outstanding body of work .
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Fascinating Yet Disappointing

I'll admit that I am a little disappointed in this book. The history of the grand old museum is actually a surprisingly fascinating read, tracing its roots from the Renaissance, through various Kings and emperors (and even a time when it was abandoned), to the modern day. I was hoping for more pictures of either inside the museum itself or of some of its works. There are some pictures of the art and a colorful map of the different parts within the Louvre. Even more disappointing is that the few pictures in the book are in black and white! This could have been a truly awesome work if it showcased more of the Louvre itself and its art—and if those photos had been in color!
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#‘The Louvre ‘ by author # James Gardner is number one on my weekend stay at home list. If your going to buy a real book this is one to put on your list.Over nine million people visit from all over a year. Yet few, are aware of the interesting history of all the buildings, and historian # James Gardner tells the story wonderfully. With expert details he links the past to the present.
Thank you,
#Netgalley, #James Gardner, and # Grove Atlantic
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This admirable book has a near impossible task: to make sense out of the jumbled history of a set of buildings that has been, variously, a fortress, palace, museum, and shopping mall. Towards the end, Gardner crunches the numbers as being something like twenty building campaigns over five centuries! Gardner is good at keeping three narratives interwoven throughout the book: 1) the architectural history of the buildings, galleries, walls, and even living spaces that comprise the Louvre 2) the circumstances around the Louvre's collecting of artworks and general connection to art currents (from sculpture and painting of the spaces themselves to its official leap to art museum, with its various kinds of collecting and curation over the years) and 3) a general social and political history of France (and its neighbors), which has determined what the building was used for, and even sometimes informed the dangers the complex faced. There are loads of fun facts and avenues for further research (I must learn more about the subterranean parking structure). This a model of the biography-of-a-building genre.
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Some nine million people from all over the world flock to the Louvre each year to enjoy its incomparable art collection. Yet few of them are aware of the remarkable history of that place and of the buildings themselves—a fascinating story that historian James Gardner elegantly chronicles in the first full-length history of the Louvre in English.
I got to go to the Louvre a few years ago, and aside from being the home to the Mona Lisa, I couldn’t tell you anymore than that. This book gave a great history on the significance of this beautiful museum. It was detailed and well written. I highly recommend.  
**I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
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This has been the most rewarding book I've read this year! I took my time with it. There is so much history to absorb both of France and Europe, and how it played out in relation to the pretty incredible history of the Louvre itself. I was overwhelmed with the vast historical context that author James Gardner so lovingly compiled in this valuable work.

Gardner has carefully researched and recorded the fascinating history with epic results. I learned so much more than I could have hoped to, going into this fascinating reading experience. 

This is a book to be treasured. I relished in the details of both the history of the Louvre and many of the famous works that came to find their home there. The knowledge I've gained, will certainly make my next visit to Paris and an extended visit to the Louvre much more rewarding. 

Fans of European and Art history, novice and seasoned alike, will be well rewarded, venturing in to this great book.

I received a copy from the publisher through NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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I have heard the name The Louvre  many many times over the years and about all the amazing collections housed there. I am a history buff and the The Louvre is on my bucket list. But what I did not know was the history of not only the museum but the land that it sets on. This book is filled with with so much information starting with the people who lived on the land over 7000 years ago. it tells you about many of the collections and artifacts at the museum, a bit about even the people who come to the museum and what to expect there. Now more than ever I would love to go visit this amazing place, thanks to this well written and deeply researched book. 

I received this book from the Author or Publisher via and chose to leave this review.
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The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World's Most Famous Museum is a new retrospective for one of the world's most visited museums. Released 15th May 2020 by Grove Atlantic, it's 416 pages and available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.

This is a really well written historical retrospective of the Louvre (including the site from ancient times) down to the modern era. The chapters are arranged chronologically starting with the very early settlement of "le louvre" through its medieval incarnation as a fortress, then palace, then more modern incarnation after the reign of terror as a museum and cultural pulse-point. The text is fascinating and historically rich and the author imbues the narrative with enough relevance that I never found it boring or dry at all.

In addition to the meticulous research and writing, the book is comprehensively annotated with reference notes and bibliography for further reading.  Many of the notes have links to web resources for more information. This would make a superlative selection for relevant classroom study in history or allied subjects including culture and art history.

Worth noting: This is not about the actual collections or art in the Louvre, the book is not abundantly illustrated. It is rather about the actual site of the physical buildings and how they have developed over the centuries.

Four stars. Well worth a read for lovers of history, culture, or the arts. Since it's not possible to visit the actual collections (except online), this was a nice stand-in. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.
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Thank you Netgalley and Atlantic Monthly Press for giving me the opportunity of reading this book, in exchange for an honest opinion.

I love visiting museums and art exposition, and the Louvre, although I never went, always made me curious about its history and why there's a pyramid on top of it, plus more questions that I never found an answer. This book just sparked my curiosity even more and gave me the knowledge I was looking for.  From architecture details to historical facts, curiosities, and art, it's a lovely way of getting to know the museum better.
After reading the book, I can certainly appreciate it better, and can't wait to visit it!
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I absolutely love the Louvre — the museum that is. So I couldn’t wait to read the book. I was hoping for a little easier read, after all we're in a pandemic lockdown. But this is a real history book. I struggled a bit to start it but I am glad I stuck with it. I learned a lot about Paris history and of course the Louvre. Now with my new-found knowledge I am eagerly awaiting my next trip to France. Thank you for the education Mr Gardner! This ARC was provided by the publishers and NetGalley in exchange for a review.
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Okay, I’ll admit it. Before reading this book I knew basically nothing about the Louvre except 1) it’s an art museum in Paris, 2) it has a giant glass pyramid, 3) that’s where the Mona Lisa lives, 4) it had something to do with the plot of The Da Vinci Code. That was it. After reading this book, I know a lot about the Louvre.

This book is extremely informative and is jam-packed with historical and architectural facts. There are lots of books about the artwork housed inside the Louvre, but this narrative focuses on the ever-evolving art and architecture of the building and grounds themselves. I found it very interesting how different French rulers changed the Louvre according to their own tastes and priorities over the years. The book also includes several historical photos and illustrations of the various iterations of the Louvre as well as several art pieces associated with it.

I received a free digital copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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A fascinating and well researched book that I found informative and engrossing.
The author is a good storyteller and it was a greatly appreciated read.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
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I received this book from Net Gallery. This is a book about the "Louvre",the famous museum where famous paintings,sculptures and so much more history. Story about  this famous building, from the beginning of its birth and the description of what the inside and the outside looks like. Very interesting story of the long history of different people who have made this place so famous today. Reading this,it's a shame I will never be able to see,but can use my imagination. If you are interested in the "Louvre",this is the fantastic book to read for her long history and the very many people who have walked her halls and still do.
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The Louvre: The Many Lives of the World's Most Famous Museum by James Gardner is an engrossing and, for me, an eye-opening account of the history of the space we now know as the Louvre.

While I have been twice, I am unfortunately one of those who went strictly to see what is stored inside without any inkling of the rich history of the building itself, not to mention the site as a whole. Gardner does an impressive job of consolidating all of the history into a readable book. This is a history book, not a work of fiction, so it does indeed read as a history book. It is quite engaging and nothing like a textbook though it is detailed. But detailed is different from being textbook-like. If you are hoping for a light read about just the museum itself, you might want to look elsewhere. If you are curious about how what seems to have been little more than a crossroads at one time could become, via a garrison and a palace, the world's most famous museum, you will be delighted with this book.

When I mentioned the writing style a moment ago, I don't mean to imply that it is a light and breezy read, Gardner covers a lot of information and so the writing is definitely geared toward offering information and putting it in context with what came before or will come later. Pretty much by definition that writing will have to have a certain formalism to it. Yet even with those demands, the writing is still straightforward and quite enjoyable.

I recommend this for readers who enjoy history as told through a specific place. Because of the time covered, we get a fair amount of European history here, but only as it applies to the Louvre. I also think anyone who has visited the museum but didn't know the rich history of the location itself will find a lot to enjoy.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Rich in history and detail, THE LOUVRE is the ideal refuge for these days: an opportunity to revisit centuries of art and walk the corridors of the world's most famous and beloved museum.
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