A persuasive argument for taking down the Mona Lisa

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/11/07/a-persuasive-argument-for-taki.html


In fairness, it’s a persuasive argument for moving the Mona Lisa, not taking it down.


I like how the British crown jewels exhibit is setup. If you want to get a close look, there are moving walk ways next to them, so no one can just stand there in the way. If you want to stop and appreciate, there is a raised platform behind the walk way for viewing. Keeps people moving, and allows people a chance to see it up close.


I was at the National Gallery in DC last year and popped into the room where the Obamas’ portraits are. Couldn’t get near either one because everyone had to push forward to snap a photo or a selfie. I stood off in a corner for five minutes as the paintings were swarmed and I didn’t see one person actually LOOK at the art. They all just wanted a picture to prove they’d been there. Reminded me of going to Blarney Castle and being chastised for holding up the line to the Stone because I was pausing to take in my surroundings. Pokemon Tourism: Gotta Catch 'Em All!


Actual link to TFA.


They should just build it its own building and put it on a different ticket.


Yes, put the Mona Lisa in it’s own building, but have 4-5 antechambers in front of it, each with a quiz on art history you must pass before the door opens into the next antechamber.


I’m thinking a large warehouse-like structure, with a bank of about 50 of those pay-for-play tourist binoculars. You view the painting from 100 yards away, for as long as you have coin. Obviously an alligator moat provides security between viewers and art.

Oh god, I’ve descended into Trumpism… nevermind.


They should leave it up! It’s an idiot magnet, which means I can enjoy the Mesopotamian areas in relative peace.


I’m not sure what the NYT is arguing for (as I cannot read paywalled articles) but I feel that of any painting, the Mona Lisa deserves a bespoke gallery space that isn’t a security hazard and displays it in a way that’s more viewable.

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an entire gallery dedicated to Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, and it not only showcases the work but enhances it through displays and related work.

That’s a nice setup indeed – also the Book of Kells at Trinity College. Same sort of thing.


The Sistine Chapel is much the same; filled to bursting with a bunch of sweaty tourists milling around, squinting at the ceiling in the dim light from tiny windows high in the walls, while burly security guards continually shout “SHHH! NO PHOTO! NO VIDEO!”

And don’t get me started on the Rosetta Stone.


When I went to see it, it was 20 years ago during the off-season in the middle of a rainy week day. No-one was taking selfies with it, either. Even so, it was still something of a let-down. While I believe they let you get a bit closer than they do now, there was no opportunity to linger over the brushstrokes.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace is the true sublime showstopper of the Louvre. Takes my breath away every time I go up those stairs.


I lived in Paris in 1989-90 (sixth grade). Our history class went on two field trips to the Louvre - once to see the Egyptian collection and once to the Greek. On one of those we passed the room with the Mona Lisa in it - a darkened room with “no flash photography” signs everywhere, a milling throng, and constant popping flash bulbs.

So of course now I can say the real connoisseur goes straight for the Egyptian and Greek collections when visiting the Louvre.


If you get a seating place on the benches around the wall it’s quite the spectacle to enjoy. I could sit there for hour watching tourists getting berated for skimpy clothing, taking photos, being to loud. Once in a while there is a public prayer, the confused looks of the chinese tourists when the priest starts is worth it alone.

As I remember the setup you don’t have to move around the Book. If you insist you can stay in front of the display case.


The image accompanying this article reminds me a series of paintings my uncle created several years ago.

Personally I never bother trying to take photos of paintings at art museums, in part because I know that the museum gift shop probably already has much-higher-quality-images available in postcard form should I feel a need to remember what the art looked like.


The Mona Lisa is nice if you can manage to actually enjoy it with these issues, but even then as mentioned Leonardo has other pieces that are as good or better. Personally I prefer his annunciation.


Exactly. It’s a clickbait title to a sensible suggestion.

It takes a while to do it, but that’s precisely what the article says. Not “take it down”, but “give it a dedicated building”.

Not that the article inspires much sympathy from me, I’m afraid. People who consider the Mona Lisa as no more than a compulsory selfie location find it inconvenient to share the painting with other selfie-takers? How appalling.

If you really, really want to see the painting, at least make some effort. Buy your entry ticket online. Download the map beforehand, and plan your route from the entrance. The Louvre opens at 9 - arrive well before that. Go straight to the Mona Lisa. You’ll have it almost to yourself; on one of my visits, I was literally the only visitor in the room.

As the article says, the Venus de Milo doesn’t get so many visitors, but it needs more space to be seen from all angles - go there next.

Though not on the 16th, 'cos I’ll be there. :wink:

I didn’t say this, but it’s possible to dodge straight in there as soon as the museum opens.


just vet the visitors. Say you have to write a one page essay as to why you want to see it before you queue up. On paper and pencil supplied by the museum, sit down and write it before you can gain admission to see it. Free to memorize it if you feel that strongly about what you are going to write, or if you have bought an essay. But no copying from another sheet. Only what you can pull from your head.

That wil cull the visitors down to a manageable amount.

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i went and saw Monet’s Water Lilies at an exhibit in boston (MFA) years ago. I had the opposite problem. The paintings are so big and up close just look like a hot mess…but from far away they are amazing…you know, if you can get far enough away without a whole bunch of people in the way.


just imagine what this looks like up close:

hint, something like this: