Mark Harden's Artchive: CD-ROM Reviews

Le Louvre: Palace & Paintings

Reunion des Musees Nationaux

"Le Louvre" presents a history of the museum itself as well as a selection of paintings from the collection.

Available for purchase online

Reprinted from UK Macformat Magazine

"The 8 pounds entrance fee for the Louvre leaves you with just enough change from a tenner for coffee in a Parisien cafe later. To armchair travellers, Le Louvre may seem like the answer to your dreams. No expensive shuttle service to Paris. No smelly metro. Just slam the disc in your drive and off you go.

"But, alas, away you go slowly. Even on a PowerMac, the disc chugs along at the speed of the Euro trains on the English side of the Channel.

[MH: This is true also on my PC's 4X CD-ROM drive. The installation doesn't put any files on your hard drive, so loading is slow, both at program startup and when you select a painting for enlargement, for instance. The advantage, of course, is that no hard drive space is taken up.]

"Still, the first glance is encouraging. The title glides onto your monitor with accompanying classical music, then fades into the summary screen, offering you a tour of the palace or the collections.

"The palace section (Screen Capture) gives an insight into the Louvre at various stages of its history. The narrator tells you of its gradual change of use from prison and fortress to palace, and finally to museum, and you can read biographies of the people involved in those changes.

"Clicking on the Evolution section reveals the layout of the palace at different times, and you can look at key sites in further detail. It's all very fascinating, but you don't really want to learn about the history of the Louvre, do you? Wouldn't you rather see the works of art it contains?

"Unfortunately, despite the museum's vast collection, the Collections section of the CD offers you a mere 100 exhibits.

[MH: This is probably the weakest aspect of the CD-ROM. The best of both worlds is to have a good book with extensive coverage of the works along with the CD-ROM.]

"Nevertheless, the presentation of the artwork is good. The art is divided up into French, English, Italian, Spanish, German, Flemish and Dutch schools and the centuries in which they were painted. Each section gives you up to 16 paintings to look at - click on the paintings in an area and you can view each of them at almost full-screen (Screen Capture), with a commentary and further text about the painter and the picture. You can zoom in (Screen Capture) on any part of the picture you want to see in more detail, and there's a scale function to give you an idea of the picture's actual size. The painting technique is explained and you can have lines superimposed on the painting to show you how the perspective works.

"It's just a shame that you don't get any impression of the gallery itself - this is frustrating when you consider that technology now enables you to take virtual tours. You just get a map and picture of each different gallery (Screen Capture) which makes you wonder if a guide book wouldn't have been as useful.

[MH: I think that in comparison to other art CD-ROMs (excluding "A Passion for Art"), "Le Louvre" does give you a good sense of what it feels like to actually be in the gallery. Granted, it's not virtual reality, but the paintings are placed in physical context.]

"This is not an exhaustive tour of the Louvre. The CD is informative and you can survey the artwork in detail, but the 100 paintings covered are a mere fraction of the Louvre's contents, and the CD is very slow. It cost more to get the train, plane or ferry, but it's the only way you'll see the Louvre in its true glory."

[MH: While I generally agree with the negative comments of this review, I still like "Le Louvre". It attempts to provide more than just a compilation of images from a museum. The image resolution is high quality and the interface is pleasing to the eye while remaining functional.

Submitted by Kenneth More Cam:

"BMG Interactive with permission of Reunion des Musees Nationaux has released a CDRom on Le Louvre. It contains a history of the museum as well as historical and societal facts. Audio commentary accompanies each painting presented.

"The period music is a nice touch, but stops when a new selection is made or commentary begins. (Perhaps a background midi file could have been used instead, so music would play continuously.)

"The actual artwork on the disk is sparse compared to the museum itself, and left me disappointed. I couldn't find many paintings that I had enjoyed at the museum. Also, the disc has none of the sculptures from the museum, which is a shame.

"Though an interesting CDROM title with a few good points, it pales in comparison to the museum and hardly prepares you for an actual visit of the "largest museum in the world."

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