Gaia Lettere

When I asked Frédéric Dassas—the eighteenth-century decorative arts curator that I worked with during my internship at the Louvre this summer—what he loved most about his job, he quickly answered: the variety of it. During the entirety of my internship, I was lucky enough to get a meaningful taste of the multifaceted character of curatorial work.

Research constituted one of the main tasks during my month at the Louvre. On the first day, I was introduced to my research project, which consisted of exploring the history of folk or ethnographic period rooms in Europe, beginning in the Netherlands, Germany, and Switzerland during the mid-nineteenth-century. Through visits to the INHA (Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art) as well as through extensive online research using databases such as the Deutsche Fotothek, Gallica, and other museum archives, I put together an extensive bibliography and an annotated selection of historic images of period rooms for potential use in a future catalogue.

On a completely different note, over the course of three weeks I also closely followed the presentation of a newly restored clock, “La Pendule de la Création du Monde,” which dates to 1754. Every week, I eagerly waited to learn more about its odyssey-like life trajectory as well as its intricate and highly advanced internal mechanism. It is an astronomical clock, comprised of a complex gear system that puts the clock, a globe, and a planetarium in motion simultaneously. Although very little documentation on the history of this object, which was originally destined for a French governor in India, exists, it is believed to have fallen into great disrepair over one hundred years ago. It was only three years ago that two clock restorers undertook an astounding job: they cleaned the pendulum and recreated the mechanism’s hundreds of pieces, giving it life once again. When the pendulum swung for the first time in a hundred years, when the globe began to rotate and the planets on the planetarium slowly re-entered their orbit, I felt truly fortunate to witness an event of such astronomical importance!

— Gaia Lettere