Visit The Louvre with THATMuse
When friends and family come to Paris, the Louvre and the Mona Lisa is always on their must-see list. We can all agree it’s a fantastic historical monument full of many art treasures. I love museums and I’ve got a degree in the decorative arts. However the thought of a visit to the Louvre immediately brings on anxiety for me. It’s so hard to find your way around the place. I’d rather pass. I tell my guests how tiny the Mona Lisa actually is and that they can get a better view on the internet. When that doesn’t work I try to convince guests it’s better to simply visit I.M. Pei’s pyramid without waiting in line for hours to get in. When all else fails, I fake sick and send them off with a map for a day at the museum sans moi.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, I was invited by THATMuse (Treasure Hunt At The Museum) for THATLou (Treasure Hunt At The Louvre) to participate in a food and wine themed hunt. My brother was in town and wanted to make the pilgrimage to the Louvre. My usual anxieties took over with the additional nervousness about lugging my newborn and three-year-old around. But I figured if there was ever a way to visit/revisit that sprawling place, this was the way to do it. Daisy de Plume, the founder of THATLou, is a fellow American expat and mother, so I had high hopes she understood my art-loving mom anxieties. Plus I kind of imagined running through the halls like that scene in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1964 film Bande à Part.
Well, there was no running allowed, but the concept was simple: groups of 2 to 4 race (brisk walking is totally ok) around the museum and take pictures in front of their finds. What kid doesn’t love a good game of hide-and-seek or eye-spy? I mean it is not exactly like that but the kiddies love finding stuff. And for the uber-competitive ones, there are plenty ways to earn additional points by finding hidden items in the artwork or making a fool of yourself in front of paintings or sculptors.
Before you too sign up for a scavenger hunt, I have a few suggestions: Purchase your tickets online ($15) to speed up your entrance and make goggly eyes at the security guards so they let you jump the queue with your kids. (The French love children!) Wear comfortable shoes and check your coat because there is nothing worse than being uncomfortable and weighed down with extra stuff when you have kids. I wore my 2-month-old baby in a baby wrap and took a lightweight travel stroller for the three-year-old to easily manage the stairs. (Don’t waste your time looking for the elevators in the Louvre.)
And let’s be honest here…although this is a competition, if you are rolling with kids you might come in dead last like us. Do this for the experience not the prize, which is just chocolate after all (who’s into chocolate?). Start off by strategizing which rooms you will go through to accumulate the most points or the pieces you really want to see.
THATLou was a great way for me to visit the museum and a different way for my visiting brother to experience the museum. If you feel like you don’t get enough time with the art, as my art-loving brother protested, you can review later in the very informative booklet with descriptions written by de Plume, who is an art historian. Or you can stroll the halls at your leisure after the competition. (It is two-and-a-half hours long.)
Also check out THATd’Or at the Musée d’Orsay and THATrue which goes through the streets of the Latin Quarter. If you are in London, try the recently launched THATBrit for a hunt in the British Museum. All the scavenger hunts follow a theme, which you can find and choose on the site. We are in the running to try this again, maybe for second-to-last place and not absolute last. Although dead last gets a consolation prize along with first place. This time we might go for the animal-themed hunt since my daughter loves Michael Rosen’s book We’re Going on A Bear Hunt. That ought to speed her up. (Ohhh or maybe I will ditch the kids and organize a ladies-night hunt followed by booze and dancing?)
For more information visit THATMuse to choose a theme and book your scavenger hunt.