I’m so used to getting yelled at by the personnel of the Met Museum in NYC that it was a borderline surreal experience to visit the Louvre in Paris, where the guards are supernaturally friendly, and the collection putsany new world museum to shame (sorry, no exceptions). What a boon for those lucky Parisians, and what a source of annoyance for anyone who has ever felt judged by a French person (you know who you are). But in some cases their interestinglyÂ casual relationship with what we often over-preciously treat as sanctified relics of genius goes a bit too far even for my taste.
I winced when I saw Milos’ Venus displayedÂ at eye levelÂ without any protection in a room filled with eating (eating!) tourists who posed forÂ snapshots by draping their arms and greasy fingers around Venus’ helpless torso. The floor of the room actually was littered with food wrappers and empty soda containers! Let’s not forget Venus has no legs to run away, and no arms to slap a would-be violator. So my suggestion to the Louvre: We love the friendliness of your guards, but please protect your treasures from those who can’t tell the difference between a great work of art and a dime-store celebrity!