Even on a rainy November day, the Louvre’s glass pyramid, set against the backdrop of the historic Palais du Louvre, has to be one of the most breathtaking sights in Paris. It’s here that the September 2018 intake of HEC Paris MBA students are gathering for a day of culture and art history, before heading to the Seine for a boat party.
After dividing into 18 groups of 6 or 7 students, we set off on timed challenges around the museum, based around the Italian, Greek, and Middle Eastern wings. The aim? To answer questions which will generate a code to unlock a Da Vinci Code-style cryptex – a challenge no doubt inspired by the fact that we’re standing in the home of the Mona Lisa.
A scavenger hunt in the world’s largest art museum is no mean feat. The students spend hours roaming the different halls, examining everything from Renaissance paintings and Classical Greek sculptures to Egyptian mummies. I join one group taking a selfie with the Venus de Milo before being whisked into another room to learn about medieval tapestry. With approximately 38,000 objects inside one museum, the sheer abundance of art is staggering.
Along with the scavenger hunt, there is an academic element to the trip. Professor Daniel Newark, who oversaw the academic component of the day’s events, has asked students to reflect on the role of iconic artworks, in order to later write a credit-bearing paper. As they wander the exhibits, the students must consider everything from how interactions with great art are mediated by organizations, to what art and literature offers to leaders.
Once we’ve explored as many of the Louvre’s 780,000 square feet as possible, there’s just enough time to marvel at the pyramid lit up for the evening, before heading to our péniche (or barge), moored on the left bank of the Seine. Here the September 2018 intake, who will finish classes in just a few days, have a chance to gather one last time before graduation in June. Enjoying a glass of champagne while overlooking the iconic scenery along the banks of the Seine is surely the best way to end a day of Parisian culture.