The Louvre Pyramid is one of the most outstanding projects designed by Chinese-American architect I. M. Pei who passed away at the age of 102 recently. The Louvre Pyramid is a large glass and metal pyramid surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace in Paris, one of the richest museums in the world. The glass pyramid in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum is the most popular but also controversial project of Pei which kept him in news all these years. Do you know what is the controversy surrounding this pyramid?
It was President François Mitterrand who had chosen Pei for the project, without a competition, and he stood by the architect against the howls of protest that followed his selection. And that was just the beginning of the controversy. When the pyramid was unveiled in January 1984, first before a body enjoying purely advisory powers, negative reactions started pouring in from all angles. Some said it’s an uncharacteristic artefact stolen from Egypt not suitable in France. Some found fault with the selection of architect Pei, an American of Chinese birth and therefore, not sufficiently aware of French background and feelings. And many said the project was ridiculous, unsightly, and inconsistent with the style and history of the Louvre and was clearly not integrated into the surrounding buildings. Many felt pyramid being a symbol of death from ancient Egypt unsuitable to be used in a Museum of Paris.
Further, some claim that (though not proved yet) the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number exactly 666, number often associated with Satan. The story of the 666 panes originated in the 1980s, when the official brochure published during construction did indeed cite this number. Though this number has been denied time and again by Pei’s office itself, the controversy refuses to cool down.
Indeed, the Louvre Pyramid gets thousands of footfalls daily but most of them are foreigners. That itself speaks a lot about how the locals treat the monument.