I. M. Pei, "Designing the Louvre Pyramid” - MIT Technology Day
PRESENTER: Our next speakers will, in fact, talk about a specific relationship between mene et manus, between art and engineering, in the world of architecture. We are very honored today to have with us architect IM Pei, class of 1940, formerly with the firm of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.
Of course, Mr. Pei is very well-known for many, many buildings. And I will not list them all. Some of them are particularly important for the arts, including, of course, the Louvre, the East Wing of the National Gallery at Washington DC, and many MIT alums are familiar particularly with the Meyerson Hall for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, a remarkable building.
At MIT, Mr. Pei has not only designed the Wiesner Building on Ames Street but the arch to that building, which is a gateway into East Campus as you cross Ames Street, also-- not, I think coincidentally-- when you are walking toward the campus, frame his three buildings in the main quadrangle with, in perspective, the MIT dome overall, the three buildings on the main campus with their very stark geometry of verticals and horizontals, triangles and rectangles.
Most recently-- or not most recently, but among Mr. Pei's most recent works-- are the Bank of China in Hong Kong and the Four Seasons Hotel in New York City. And I think we will be hearing about some of these works today. Mr. Pei has also been affiliated with MIT since 1972 as a member of the Council for the Arts at MIT. And we appreciate his years of membership on that group.
Talking to Mr. Pei today will be Dean William Mitchell. Dean Mitchell has been at MIT since 1992, and he is particularly well-known for his book, published by The MIT Press, The Reconfigured Eye, which deals with digital photography and, in fact, visual images that do not represent the real world.
Dean Mitchell is working very hard in the School of Architecture to lead the School of Architecture into the 21st century with his Virtual Design Studios and The Design Studios of the Future using computer technology to create a seamless process from the initial designs through to the communications with clients, engineers, and others. Please help me to welcome IM Pei and Dean William Mitchell.
MITCHELL: Redoing the Louvre-- that sounds much better. Redoing the Louvre is an extraordinarily large and complex project involving technical problems, organizational problems, political problems, certainly, problems of very complex cultural symbolism.
So what we thought we'd do today is to ask Mr. Pei to describe a little bit of his thought processes, what the problem was about, the solution that he finally derived. And then, we'll take some time to discuss this truly magnificent project. So Mr. Pei.
PEI: Professor Morrison talked about hundreds of centuries. I'm talking today on the subject of the Louvre about eight centuries, the history of 800 years. But these are very important 800 years for the French, at least.
It's the building of the period during which French nation was born. It's a period that, I would say, that's roughly parallel the recent French history. In fact, it's also a wonderful symbol for them, at least, of French civilization.
So therefore, the problem of the Louvre for the architect is not just a technical problem, architectural problem. But it's a problem that has many, many challenges. I would like to start off by telling you something about the history of the Louvre. Now, I don't have too much time, but I'll try to make it very brief and, therefore, incomplete.
It started in 1202 by, I think that you can call him a French King, Philippe Auguste, who built this fortress on the right side of the sand to protect the Ile-de-France, which is now the Il de la Cité, which is the place where the heart of French life at that time in Paris took place.
It was built as a fortress, le donjon, as they call it. And it's important because I wish I'd taken some slides to show you what it is like today. But anyway, it was a wonderful building where they put prisoners, where they put ammunition. It's a very important place to protect, let's say, something that they considered to be very important.
It lasted as a donjon, or as a fortress, for roughly, I would say, maybe 200 years. It did not become really a place for the Kings to live in until about the end of 14th century. And I think Charles V was the king that one should remember. Because that's the beginning of Louvre, not only as a place for the king to live in but also the beginning of French art. The first library of France was there, and the collection of many, many objects of Charles V was displayed there.
Now, for how many years since then-- 1400 to today? I would say 500 years, 600 years. Nearly all the French kings that you know of of any importance have either lived there, died there, married there, and born there. So therefore, it's an important place.
So therefore, this is not really surprising that when someone like myself-- I guess I can consider myself an American of Chinese descent-- has to tamper with a very important part of French history. So I'm going to go through this in two phases to show you what I went through.
Phase one lasted five years, from 1983-- six years-- to 1989. And during those six years, the plan was laid, how to deal with the problem. It's a very complex problem. And the pyramid was built.
But before the pyramid was built, we had a lot of trouble. We wasted two years. It's a media that I had to deal with at that time. And I was totally unprepared. And my French language is just not adequate for that purpose.
But I had to deal with the media to try to convince the French that this was the right thing to do. So therefore, even though it took six years, but only four of those six years were devoted to architecture and the building of the phase one.
Now, phase two is less spectacular in the sense of public information but is perhaps the more important of the two. Because it completed a wing called Richelieu. And without that wing, there would be no Louvre today. And we couldn't get that wing until 1985.
The wing-- I tell you what the wing is. The wing was occupied by the Ministry of Finance ever since, oh, I would say Napoleon III.
Only 200 years-- 150 years. No, less-- 1856-- 150 years, yes. And they refused to move.
And at that time, the pyramid is already discussed. And people say, OK, if you must have it. Yes, Mitterrand must want it. OK. But I said, look here, there's no point to build the pyramid if we don't have the Ministry of Finance. So that gave the president another headache.
But long story short, we moved them out in 1989. So the second phase is the building of the Richelieu wing. It's architecturally not, of course, spectacular but very important. Because why? Because I have to keep the facade. The only thing I could do is inside.
And we demolish everything inside except a big suite of Second Empire rooms-- very beautiful rooms, you must go and see it-- and two or three staircases. And the rest of Richelieu was completely gutted. So it was a major engineering project but not very spectacular, except there are some interesting things inside, which you will see when you come. So because of time, I'm going to start with phase one quickly.
MITCHELL: You have your slide changer.
PEI: Oh, yes. I'm going to have to learn how to use this.
MITCHELL: Press the top there.
PEI: Nope. Oh, yeah.
MITCHELL: Yes. And this one for the other side. This one here.
PEI: Excuse me.
MITCHELL: We have to sort out the technology here.
PEI: Oh. Oh, I see.
MITCHELL: There we go.
PEI: Oh, I see. Now I understand. OK. Now Louvre, as you know it, perhaps without too much debate among architects and planners, is perhaps the most important urban composition in the world today. There's no other that can compare with it. It's history-- 800 years in the building.
It started as a fortress and then was added on by kings after kings. But the important kings to remember that built the Louvre are probably, I would say, Charles V, Francis I, Henry II, Henry IV, Louis XIII, Louis XIV, and eventually, Napoleon I and Napoleon III. And there are many other kings in between that added something to it. But those were the important kings.
And it can also be said that, perhaps, every important French architect-- nearly every, from Lescot to Mansart to Le Vau under Louis XIV-- many, many others-- and then eventually Lefuel, Visconti-- they all participated in the building of it. So therefore, it's not surprising that if you come into this wonderful complex that's already formed and to try to do something with it.
Now, the reasons why something had to be done to the Louvre is for the reason that you know, that it was built first as a fortress, and it was added on and added on to try to make it more comfortable for king after king. And to turn it into a museum in 1793, the convention is a move that was correct-- interesting-- because it became Louvre. It became a public museum for the first time 200 years ago.
But it was not at all suitable for a museum because it was meant for life, for kings to live in. So the Louvre has never really worked as a museum. I was there for the first time on a fellowship-- not MIT but Harvard fellowship.
I did receive MIT fellowship, but it was during the war. I couldn't do anything with it. I live across the street from the Louvre in a very tiny, little hotel. And I went over there every day to look at it. And I'll tell you, in those years, you really have to have time to see the Louvre because you get lost in it and you don't know where anything was. And there are no toilets, no restaurants-- nothing of that sort.
But it had a wonderful collection, and you have to go back time and time again to find surprises. And that was the way Louvre was to all of you, to many others, until something happened in 1989. So therefore, Louvre is a wonderful complex of buildings. But Louvre Museum was not. Louvre Museum happened to be a tenant in the Louvre. That's all.
It was occupied by the Ministry of Culture running the Museum of France. It was occupied by the Ministry of Finance, occupied by many, many others. Louvre Museum occupy a long, long wing along the Seine. And it's about, I would say, 800 meters long.
And that wing was almost impossible to go from one end to the other without going up and down and there. So therefore, most people who went to the Louvre, as I did, probably only saw, maybe, 25% of it. And the rest, you just miss. You have to have a guide. And I didn't have a guide. So therefore, I had to go back time and time again to find new things, new surprises.
So Louvre did not work as a museum. And the French knew it. But they wanted, finally, under Mitterrand, to do something about it. And the one move that was perhaps the most important move of all I mentioned earlier. It was the recapturing of the Richelieu wing from the Ministry of Finance.
Now, this is perhaps not a very good slide. I apologize. But you can see the importance of Louvre in the heart of Paris. Because it's situated perhaps in the most important-- really in center-- heart of Paris. And yet, it separated the left bank from the right bank.
There's no way to penetrate except by car from left bank, which is below to the right bank. So it became, actually, a barrier. And that became an urban design problem of first magnitude. Because we have to open up the Louvre. To open up the Louvre, then you rejoin the two parts of Paris, not by car-- you can always drive around-- but on foot. And this is one of the challenges that is least talked about but has, in my opinion, the most important.
The access of the Louvre leads all the way to Saint-Germain. And it all, probably, is, again, when I say the most important urban composition, I really should say that it's the most important axis of the world. There's no axis like that that leads all the way from the Louvre to Saint-Germain.
It went through the Garden of the Louvre, which you all know, Place de La Concorde, up Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe and then on to La Défense and then La Défense [? beyond. ?] Now, this is a diagram of the Louvre to show you the gray area on top was occupied by the Ministry of Finance.
The ochre, the yellowish color wing, 800 meters long-- half a mile long-- occupied not just by the museum, by the museum and by the museum administration of France. And French bureaucracy, I tell you, takes up a lot of space.
So it's not all museum. You can see that people come by one side of the courtyard and enter there while you're waiting in line if you're lucky-- a good day. You don't mind, but then you'll be pestered by people trying to sell you all kinds of things that you don't want.
But nonetheless, the people-- three million people-- continue to come. Why? For this collection. But you really have to go through, really, a very uncomfortable experience in the process.
Now, what I saw at that time when I was asked by the French government to say, can you do something about the museum? I said, I don't know. But anyway, I'll try. And the one thing that became apparent to me, when I look at this problem, I said the Ministry of Finance has to go.
And I said, the reason is simple. I said, when you want to build a modern museum, Louvre, why it is not a modern museum-- for simple reason. And that is in modern museum-- which I knew well then because I finished the National Gallery already-- about 50% of exhibit space has to be matched by 50% of supporting spaces-- reserve, conservation laboratories, restaurants, auditorium, lecture halls, public reception spaces, toilets, things like that-- which it did have-- tiny little toilets.
In fact, I remember very well that when I went there, I frequently had to leave the Louvre because I have to find a place to go. And then, when you leave the Louvre, some people don't come back again.
So they lost a lot of people. And it's not really surprising that the average stay of visitors to the Louvre is only one hour and a half, whereas the National Gallery is three and a half hours. Metropolitan Museum-- about the same.
So I said that the key to making Louvre function as a museum is to change the Louvre from 800 meter long-- up and down, up and down-- to something very compact. But you can give up this wing, the floor where the Spanish paintings were-- or still are-- and give it to other uses.
But you must move the Louvre to that part. And that way, you accomplish two things, which is essential to making Louvre Museum function. Number one, you can excavate that court-- which is in gray area-- the Napoleon court. We can go down two levels. It goes to the level of the Seine, which is about 10 meters down.
You can go down two levels. And you can recapture half a million square feet of space just by excavating that. And why not? You can use that space for reserve. You can use that space for all the infrastructure support that a modern museum needs.
Because under the old Louvre, there's no foundation. There's no space. They have some pipes and that's about all. But nothing there-- there's some sewers that go through. But that is the key to making the Louvre into the modern museum.
Second reason is that if you put the center of the Louvre not on one side, down below, but really in the middle of that gray area, you've got the center of gravity of the Louvre right there. And from that point, you can go to the three wings. Louvre had three wings. Do you know? Venus de Milo is there, and Mona Lisa is there.
And to Richelieu and to Sully, very short distance-- not 800 meters anymore. It's going to be only about something that's 50 meters, the difference so that you can divide Louvre into, really, three parts, even though they're interconnected upstairs-- three parts, and each part is at least several days' visit. So a big museum, you may wonder whether you need a museum this size. But be that as it may, it's a big museum, and that's the only way to solve the problem.
So therefore, I told the president, I said, you've got to do two things. You've got to let us dig under the court. Because there may be relics there. The project could have been stopped if they found something important there. And then, you also have to find a way to move the Ministry of Finance.
At this point, it's not so funny at that time.
But this tells you something about the man who is still the president of France. I don't know of any heads of state in the world that has the kind of breadth of understanding of the history and culture not only of France but of the world.
He's really a remarkable man. He may not be the greatest politician. I don't know. Time will tell. But he was and he is a really exceptional leader when it comes to art and culture. And I could not have done anything there without him. That's obvious.
The court, before we did anything with it, was a parking lot. It's a parking lot for the bureaucrats that occupied the Ministry of Finance.
The court, after excavation-- one year, archaeologists were digging, really, literally, with brushes. And they found things, all right, but nothing terribly important. Because this court, unlike the court which I wish I had slides to show you with the marvelous donjon foundation, is now on display, which, when you go there, you see.
This court was inhabited by people who served the kings. They're bakers. They're cobblers. There's a little church. And that's about all. And therefore, there's nothing that is so important that they say stop.
We were very fortunate. From '84 to '85, that year, we were waiting to see what happened. We wish they discover nothing. And the archaeologists, of course, wish they had found something. But anyway, they found nothing of importance, and we proceeded to get the green light.
Now, here I want to show you the organization of the Louvre. This is the court. The rest of the Louvre's not shown here. It's only the Napoleon Court. By putting an object-- something-- in the center of this court-- let's say Napoleon Court-- you can connect the three pavilions in a very short and direct way and very understandable.
You can see it. When you are in the court or in the hall below, you can look out, and you can see Denon, Richelieu, and Sully. And that clarity of orientation is key to a big museum.
This is an urban study. So to try to ventilate Paris, you must first ventilate the Louvre. To ventilate the Louvre, you have to do several things. You can come over from the left bank over Pont des Arts, which is a pedestrian bridge-- a wonderful bridge, architecturally. From engineering point of view, it's a wonderful bridge.
And then you enter into Cour Carrée and then turn left. But you have to do two things in order to make it truly open. One is that you have to open that passage under Richelieu, called Passage Richelieu, to lead you to the Place du Palais-Royale, which is right-- and then, from then on, to Palais-Royale, and then to Pompidou Center, which you know.
The second thing that you must also do is to open up the garden. A new bridge is being built. I think it's about to start construction here so that you can walk from Orsay, which is where the wonderful Impressionist collection is today, from Orsay all the way to the Louvre. And that will open up the Louvre. And once that Louvre is opened up, it no longer is a barrier. It becomes a connector.
This was a drawing done by Steve, who's here, Steve [? Oves. ?] I show this drawing to the president. And he was not shocked. Perhaps he was the only man that was not shocked. But when I show it to the press, they were shocked. And I tell you, from that point on, as I say, 18 months of just nothing but harassment by the media.
But still, we got the green light. And the president, as well as his official, who was in charge of the Louvre-- an important man, Biasini-- said, let's dig. Because the archaeologists has already said it's OK. Let's dig. And this was what you see.
And that was the beginning of another furor and people demonstrating and everything except they didn't do anything really serious like committing suicide and like that, but very close-- very close. There were a few.
Now I'm going to go quickly because of time. Quickly, to show you how the building process did. And the building of this palace was remarkably fast. The French contractors are incredibly good. They're very, very good.
These are slides that shows the construction. This is Napoleon Court, by the way. This is not the rest. It's only one part-- the important part. This is the part where the pyramid must emerge. And the square grid that you see, the structural steel member there, they're all on bearings. It can move.
It can move. And they're supported on four columns, and that's all. We had about 60 or some slides because from one vantage point, they took pictures every so many months. But I'm only showing you a few. So that's very quick. But it took--
Thank you. It took 18 months to reach this stage. And at this point, I would say, it's the end of phase one. It was open in spring 1989. And Mitterrand was there to cut the ribbon. And it was rather well-received by then. But still I would say there were, maybe, 30% or 40% people still not very happy with it and for any number of reasons. But nevertheless, it was built.
And since this is MIT, I thought I have to bring this slide. If I show it to another audience, they would not be interested in it. And I'm going to show you some of the slides of the construction.
But one thing that should also interest you that the French government make no secret of it, they want everything to be made in France. And the only exception, which I asked the president to allow us, is to have all the tension elements made in Massachusetts by a small rigging company that did the America's Cup, the yachts. I don't know whether Bill Coke is here or not but he would know.
And we are the best. And I showed him some samples of the rigging, how the 10 buckles fit into the cable and all that. And he was fascinated with it. And because he liked it so much that he didn't even bother to say, is there a French equivalent to it? We just say, go ahead. So we did it.
And on the other hand, the glass problem. You see, glass has to be white, has to be clear. If the glass is not clear-- this is laminated, you know, it's double layer. It's very thick. It's about almost 3/4 of an inch thick.
If it's not clear, it will be green. And you will see it through the corner of this glass. It will be very dark green, bottle green. So therefore, that is not acceptable because the Louvre, you see, the composition of the Louvre must be seen. And the ochre color stone shouldn't look green.
So therefore, I requested the French manufacturer, Saint-Gobain, to make this glass. They say no. We no longer make them. And then, finally, they say, well, if you built 1000 pyramids, we'll make them for you.
So I didn't report this to the president. I went to a German firm, Schott Glass. I say, can you make it? Yes, we can. Saint-Gobain said, we'll make it.
I'm going to go very quickly-- the making of the pyramid. The pyramid has one virtue. It's a very stable form. You know that. And consequently, it requires the least amount of steel in order to support it.
And consequently, if you use the finest technology available to you, technologically, to build it, it will be the most transparent form. And it must be the most transparent form because you want to see that composition. That composition is so important to the world, not just to France,
So you may ask, do you need something that projects? Many architects in France, as well as abroad, suggested, why not just have a glass sheet on the ground, and you bring light in just as well?
But I said, no. I said, you have to have space. You go into the lower level 10 meters down, nine meters down, and you don't want to have a glass ceiling. That word may mean something to some.
You don't want a glass ceiling. You want space. And so something has to project. And I defended the pyramid. And the pyramid, for those of you who know France, is a very important symbol to French. I think the French are probably more conscious of pyramid as a form than any other people because of Napoleon, I guess. They really went to Egypt. They took a lot of things away from Egypt.
So the pyramid form is necessary to give you space. So give you light, give you space, but at the same time, transparent. You can see through it. And also, you need a symbol. Because if this is going to be the main entrance to the Louvre, it cannot be just a subway entrance, so simply cannot be.
Glass was put in this manner. And for a long time, there was a debate. Can you clean the glass? And we tried different ways. They hired some Indians from Canada to clean it. They even tried robot. Eventually, we clean by robot.
But finally, we got some alpinist to get up there, hang the rope from the tip of the pyramid, and wash it. And it only took two days to wash it. But now, it took less. Now, one day is all we need.
So the washing problem no longer a problem. But for a while, that became also a problem. Because the French want to find any reason to object to it. And cleaning the pyramid also kept us quite involved.
Now, you're inside the space. And you can see the Louvre. You can see the Louvre through it. Ah. That was D-day.
But no booing-- no booing. Lots of applause, no booing. Ah. I like that photograph. You don't see anything. There's a story about this statue. During Louis XIV's time-- I'm short of time. I would try to go quickly.
Louis XIV's time, they invited-- and this shows that in those years, the kings of France are already very cultured people-- he invited Bernini from Rome to come. Bernini had just finished the St. Peter's arcade, that wing that enclosed that space. Perhaps [INAUDIBLE], he and Borromini were the two most important architects of that time.
And the French king wanted the best, so he invited Bernini to come to do something in the back of the Louvre-- not the this part-- in the back of the Louvre. And he was there six months. And he did not survive the French architects.
And the only thing he left behind-- there a few things he left behind, not of importance. But the only big thing that he left behind is a statue of Louis XIV. But that was made in Rome, and it was shipped to France afterwards.
But Louis XIV never liked it because his image at that time was 25 years ago. He was a young man then. He's no longer young. So he banish it to Versailles, and it remained there. And because it was not known, it was never vandalized and never broke-- I mean it was never destroyed during the war because they just left there. But it was marble.
It was vandalized by a man from Brittany-- anarchist, I guess-- and no longer salvageable. But I persuaded the conservator of Versailles to let us make a cast of it-- the only way. And they did. And it's made in lead. And I thought, we should put it there to remember him as someone who tried.
But that very important, that location. I needed something there to terminate the access of Chance-Élysées because that axis of Le Notre-- the Le Notre axis-- was not terminated at Louvre. Because the Louvre is a little bit like this-- like this.
So it has to be terminated-- not by the pyramid, by something else, and something that's strong. And I was fearful of commissioning a French sculptor at that time. You don't know what's going to happen. I'm perfectly frank about it. You just don't know what-- so that was my escape from responsibility.
Now, the second phase of the Louvre-- not spectacular, not at all polemical, but extremely important. Because now, it opened only a few months ago. If you go there now, you understand why the pyramid was put there in the first place.
And I think the vindication of the whole plan is now made possible through the completion of this wing. And for that reason, even though architecturally, it's not spectacular because the facade had to be kept and everything has to be internalized, done inside-- number two I had to work with two French architects, which is reasonable. Because after all, I can't hog it all.
Now, you see under the Napoleon Court, and this is what it looks like. This is 10 meters below ground. You go up three sets of escalators to a intermediate level-- still below ground-- and you can enter into the three wings of the Louvre.
And the fourth wing, going this way, goes to shops, parking, bus terminal. Eventually, all the buses that you see on Rue de Rivoli, as well as on the [? Quai, ?] will disappear, as they have now. They're all underground now. So urbanistically, that's another very important contribution.
And below, at this lower level, we have auditorium. We have restaurants. We have a reception area for the young people. And we have a bookstore-- enormous bookstore-- and the shops and meeting rooms and conference center. Everything is there.
But below this level, it's all circulation. There is at truckway that connect all the departments underground. And there's a large reserve so that all the collection-- nearly all the collection of the Louvre-- now comes back home.
Now, we have to talk briefly about Richelieu wing, even though, architecturally, as I say, it's not very spectacular. The two courts were proposed way back to be covered. They were parking and trucking for the Ministry of Finance before, so not used. By covering it, we can turn it into an exhibition space for French sculpture. And further, we also proposed to dig down below the Richelieu wing, as you see, so that the two courts are connected at the lower level.
And this was a trucking area, which now become exhibition area for French sculpture. This wing house four departments-- the sculpture department, the oriental antiquities department, the objet d'art, which is probably the most important objet d'art collection in the world, and paintings.
I put this in mostly, again, because this is MIT. This is a pyramid, about 50 feet square, inverted. Why inverted? Because its positioned at the place where the circular rotary is. And you don't want to see any projection there coming up. Because one pyramid is quite enough.
But to use the same theme-- and we wanted to bring light in-- this is the intersection. If you go to the bus terminal, to the parking, and to the shops, you have to go through this point. So therefore, it's nice to have something to make people feel they're still in the Louvre.
So now, this suspended pyramid is a major engineering project. It was designed by a man, Peter Rice of Arup Associates in London. And too bad I don't have the drawings. It's actually a very brilliant design.
The whole thing, there are only four rods in the center, all suspended. And the rest are all cables. It's cables and four rods, and that's all. And it has one other very exciting byproduct.
Clearly, I was very proud of it. Another very important byproduct of this is the prismatic effect of the glass. You see the glass, because we don't have to keep water or rain out of this. Because inside, we can polish the edges of the glass and bevel it.
By beveling it, the spectrum of the colors came out. So at times you see, a sunny day like this, it's just a rainbow inside. It's really quite spectacular. If you go there, make sure you go there on a good, sunny day.
Now, the Richelieu wing, there was one thing has to be done to the Richelieu wing. Because it's about the painting collection is perhaps the most important French painting collection in the world-- not perhaps, definitely. And yet, people don't go there.
Because the French conservators want it upstairs because of daylight. They are very, very insistent on using daylight-- our conservators are less so-- very insistent. And for that reason, they take the attic space. They have a ceiling not very high.
But to get up there, you have to walk up 75 feet, vertical space. And most people don't walk up there. So they miss a lot of visitors. I was told only about, maybe at the most, 10% or 15% of people go up to the top floor. And that's a great pity.
So I proposed to put in escalators. I hate to do that. It's a 19th century building, and you don't install something like that unless you have a good reason. That was a big battle. But it was won. And today, nobody disagree that it's absolutely needed. Because otherwise, the interconnection up and vertically, it's very, very difficult.
This is objet d'art. I show you the sculpture actually. I show you the object d'art. These are the Maximilian tapestries, never shown before-- no place to show it. Now, they have a place. And it's a must. The Maximilian tapestries are a must to see. They are very dimly lit because of the color of the threads.
Now, before I go into this, this work here was done by architect Willmotte of France-- of Paris, France. And my role in the Sculpture Garden and this is what they call, really, a [INAUDIBLE]. It's sort of like a coordinator. I participated in all the decision-making. I chose them as my architects. I had that responsibility. But they should get the credit for it.
Now, this was old Louvre. The lighting of paintings is a really, a very special science. It really is. And it's extremely important. It's never studied enough. It just hasn't been.
We don't have good daylight galleries in America. We don't have it in the National Gallery. We don't have it in the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. They're all like this. They are laylights with skylight on top, even though it could have been artificially lit, and you wouldn't know the difference.
And another disadvantage is that the skylight is very bright. And therefore, the brightest is the ceiling. The second brightest is the floor. The walls, where you want the light to be, looks dark. And consequently, we decided this is something we want to do a piece of research on. And I think one of the major breakthrough, I consider, in this wing is in the lighting.
The lighting solution is this. We make the ceiling into three layers. The first layer's glass, skylight, with a UV filter, of course. And then, below the glass is an egg crate. And egg crate is carefully calculated so that the orientation is such so no direct sun rays will come in.
It would have been better if they were movable. Because then we get good light all year round, all seasons. Unfortunately, the French have experience with maintenance crew. They say it won't work here.
And they are right. They're right. So we use fixed louvers that don't have to be touched. We cut off a lot of light-- a lot more light than we wanted to. But it does remove the headaches of the [INAUDIBLE] that was doing that job. And the reason of the big cross is that people have to walk there. So it has to be wide enough for people to walk, to clean, to relamp, and that sort of thing.
But you can see the sky if you are walking on one side. But the light, as you see, now is deflected to the walls. It's no longer coming down to the floor. So the walls now are bright. And they get light.
And that is turned out to be something that-- the French conservatives are very conservative, and they accepted this. And they now claim this is the best in the world. They have to-- something has to be, always. And this, they like.
And this is a very important suite of paintings by Rubens celebrating Marie de' Medici's journey and eventually to apotheosis. All the way, and you can see again, the light is no longer bright on the ceiling. It's directed to the walls.
And this is another version of it. This is octagonal room. That's a long room. And the previous one, I think, is a square room. And this is the way the light looks-- no reflection, no reflection. I guarantee you that-- no reflection.
All right. Richelieu wing was finished in November, open in November 1993, exactly 200 years after the founding of the Louvre. And the Richelieu wing, together with the Napoleon Court, is now complete. And therefore, Louvre finally functions as the way we had planned to.
And some of these slides are mostly to show you what it looks like when it's all finished. And young lady is celebrating the event. So there you are. I think that's-- oh. I've used up too much time. Well, sorry.