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LEONARDO DA VINCI

Da Vinci code: Leonardo brings all-night art to the Louvre

Visitors take photos of a version of the 'Mona Lisa' during the free opening of the 'Leonardo da Vinci' exhibition at the Louvre Museum on 21 February, 2020 in Paris.
Visitors take photos of a version of the 'Mona Lisa' during the free opening of the 'Leonardo da Vinci' exhibition at the Louvre Museum on 21 February, 2020 in Paris. AFP/Lucas Barioulet

Earlier this month, the Louvre Museum in Paris released 30,000 free tickets on its website for the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition. In three hours they were all gone. The Louvre opened its doors for three consecutive nights, all night. Visitors were invited to discover the Italian Renaissance master's work in a quiet - and for once - uncrowded museum.

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"I really appreciate visiting the exhibition in the morning […] finally we succeeded on the last day, also we’ve been welcomed with a coffee and a madeleine, it’s a very nice initiative," says Hervé, retired, who came to the Louvre with his wife thanks to the free tickets offer.

Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum's director, said the goal was for people to "feel at home" while discovering the 162 works, including loans by Queen Elizabeth II and the British Museum, Russia's Hermitage and the Vatican.

"I’ve found the exhibition fascinating […] it’s something we don’t see in our country," says Diana who ‘studied’ Da Vinci in school in the Philippines but never had the opportunity to see his work in an exhibition.

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Janarthan, an Indian student in genetics, who started his visit at 7am, changed the perspective he had on Leonardo Da Vinci after he saw the exhibition.

"I’m really surprised, he could do so many things in his lifetime, such as paintings, inventions, so many things."

On his special early morning experience in the famous museum, he adds:

"This place attracts people from all around the world, whether it’s day time or night time, there are people visiting this museum all the time."

A man takes a photo of the painting 'La Belle Ferronniere' (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre Museum on 21 February, 2020 in Paris.
A man takes a photo of the painting 'La Belle Ferronniere' (1490) by Leonardo da Vinci at the Louvre Museum on 21 February, 2020 in Paris. AFP/Lucas Barioulet

The exhibition, which opened in late October, marks 500 years since the death of Leonardo in Amboise in the Loire Valley on 2 May, 1519.

"Everybody should be a fan of Da Vinci because he’s the greatest artist of all time. It’s the first time we can see so many drawings and paintings," explains Marc Sanchez who previously worked in contemporary art museums.

"He spent so much time on 'studies' and on the paintings, without finishing many of them.

"That’s always a question when you look at his paintings, so many are unfinished.

"That shows that he gave a lot of importance to the process, this is very modern, he’s one of the first contemporary artists I think."

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