TITLE: Le WebLouvre, Paris

ACCESS: http://mistral.enst.fr/~pioch/louvre

Part of the ENST (Ecole Nationale Superieure des Telecommunications, Paris) World Wide Web server, Le WebLouvre - no official relation to the famous art museum - was created by Nicolas Pioch, a 23-year-old student and computer science instructor at the ENST. The project is continually being developed and expanded with the help of outside contributors becase "more artistic stuff is needed on the Internet," as Pioch explains. At

the 1994 CERN World Wide Web conference, Le WebLouvre received the "Best Use of Multiple Media Award."

Without further ado, let's pick up a ticket at the "Pyramide" as over 150,000 visitors have done during the first 6 months since the museum opened on March 20 1994, and begin our exploration of the different exhibits: The Famous Paintings Exhibition, The Medieval Art Exhibit and the Visit Paris Tour, with together more than 250 images and several dozen sound bites.

In the Famous Paintings Exhibition, you can see works from the Baroque, the Revolution and Restoration, the Impressionistic and the Cubism to Abstract Art periods, browse an Artist Index and look up definitions in the Glossary. The collections of Impressionism are the most extensive (over 60 pieces, including many works by Manet, Monet, Renoir and van Gogh) while ther other areas are still rather "sketchy." The Artist Index deserves a look since several of the over 50 artists mentioned here (like Durer, Klimt, Schiele or Michelangelo) did not make it into the period exhibits. There are links to biographical information (often taken from the 1994 _Encyclopedia Britannica_) and some of the paintings have well-written interpretative comments provided by Pioch and others. Textual elements throughout Le Weblouvre are in either English, French or sometimes both languages.

Should your eyes experience visual overload, you can step into the Auditorium and listen to a collection of sound bites including clips from the French TV sho "Les Guignols de l'Info," French movie stars (like Alain Delon and Jean-Paul Belmondo), TV personalities, sports stars and politicians from the left (Mitterand) and from the right (Chirac). You can also treasure some classical music or, if you have become homesick, play the theme songs from "Mission Impossible" and "Pink Panther."

You may even slip out onto the streets of Paris and discover some of the city's tourist attractions (don't miss the newly opened "Catacombs of Paris.") or select the historical guided tour, complete with explanations and anecdotes.

By now it is time to soak up some more culture and head for the Medieval Art Exhibit. "Les Tres Riches Houres du Duc de Berry" is a fine example of a medieval book of hours and the 12 calendar images from the 15th century are a high point of the art of manuscript illumination.

Le WebLouvre is a cultural experience. If you can stand to wait for the images and sound bites to transfer to your desktop (or if you are fortunate to have a direct Internet connection) and the quality of the GIF and JPEG images does not bother you, Le WebLouvre is well worth the visit, not just for the art lover. It doesn't replace a trip to Paris (or your favorite museum for that matter), but it may be the only way for you to get there.

Ralf Neufang
University of Hawaii

October 20, 1994

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