To visit the Louvre or not? Not everyone is a museum person but to NOT visit the Louvre Museum seems like missing one of the major sites of Paris. What to do? This week, I am beyond excited to have Daisy de Plume, creator of THATLou, share how you can see the Louvre and have an adventure. I LOVE this idea! The perfect mix of art, history and competition to add to your Paris itinerary.
As you touched on in your very useful Louvre Travel Tip, with 35K works of art, it’s just not possible to see the Louvre in a day. If you took all three wings and all four levels of the former king’s palace and stretched them into a line room after room it would run 8 miles (13 KM) — it’s bigger than an NFL football field! Just thinking about these figures makes my eyes glaze over, yet it would be a crime to visit Paris without including the Louvre.
So, how does one dust off the Grandfather of Old-Master museums? A bit of interaction always helps. THATLou, which stands for Treasure Hunt at the Louvre, makes the Louvre manageable, focused and fun through thematic romps up, down and around the 65,000 m² palace. Mais faites attention, no running, and no external help including GPS!
As treasure hunts go, THATLou is quite simple: each team (consisting of 2 to 4 people) must photograph themselves in front of as many treasures (art) as possible within the given time, collecting varied points per treasure found. The clue-manual provides 20 to 30 pieces pertaining to one of our 12 themes and each team is provided with a highlighted map and THATLou pencil. There are intentionally more pieces of treasure than one can find in the recommended 90 mins/2 hours, requiring a bit of strategizing (An adorable Australian family posted their THATLou strategy on YouTube here).
Bonus questions are embedded within the text— sometimes requiring silly poses (a prancing putti or perhaps your pride is for sale with a pose as Michelangelo’s Dying Slave?) or sometimes the bonus questions are educational, referring to articles about the Louvre’s collection from the THATLou blog (the blog’s category section collects articles per theme, which hunters often print for boring plane rides over and to drum up the harmless talk smack within families of who’s going to win their Louvre treasure hunt!).
Typically a family of four will break up into teams of 2 each (one parent and one child pitted against the other), or families can opt for “friendly competition” and play against another family. After families re-group to open the all-important (sealed!) answer sheet, take a break from the museum/their hunt and see how they did. I mark each of the maps with a little-visited room that has a phenomenal view of Paris (“THATLouPostcard”photo below) and window seats where families can quiet down from their adrenalin-pumped hunt.
But it’s the post-hunt that’s my interest! My hope is that once families have seen each other’s photos and given their tootsies a rest, families will want to go around to see unfound treasure together – and perhaps show off a bit on having found treasure the other team missed. To go around the museum at a leisurely pace, together, and to see the art slowly – and in the end to feel invigorated when they leave, to have been engaged with these gems. Henri Loyrette, former director of the Louvre, said that 80% of the 30K visitors a day did a bee-line for the Mona Lisa and then left. That fact alone was a large reason for me to want to start THATLou. Yes it’s important to see Louvre icons such as the Venus de Milo and Nike of Samothrace, but there are also many other truly top-notch treasures tourists typically pass by.
I feel like THATLou is one big con-game on trying to get people into feeling some sort of ownership of the art they’ve seen as well as of the museum itself. As I was growing up my mother (an art historian) brought me to the Met for a few hours each Sunday afternoon and created games with the paintings to keep my interest (and I suppose to give her some precious moments of quiet, I realize now that I’m a parent!). Her methods were clearly successful in catching my interest as I ended up with a degree in Art History and THATLou! If I can get just 30% of hunters to want to return to the museum then I’ll have accomplished my mission.
My husband and I started the company in 2012, in 2013 we expanded across the Seine to the Musée d’Orsay (THATd’Or) and this year in 2014 we launched THATRue (on the streets of the Latin Quarter). This last one can be purchased as a supplement to either of the museum hunts (and in this instance is self-guided), but it was created for a large 120 teenage traveling orchestra and has since been used for larger corporate team-building events. Right now we’re working on THATKid with a Botticelli Spot the Difference and a Mona Lisa sticker sheet. This Kid Pack will be additional to a hunt and will hopefully reinforce children’s art-awareness and engagement in the treasure they found during their hunt. We travel a fair bit and always need photocopies and exercises for our son at restaurants and in transport. Why not make some of those exercises about the treasure they have stashed in your phone, with silly photos of them posing on all fours as a dragon St George is killing?
Isn’t this a wonderful idea?!
You can follow THATLou on social media too!
(All photos provided by THATLou.)