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Educator Itineraries Bringing Louvre Masterpieces to Life on Stage

Length: 1 hr 30 mins - Level: All/Visitors with disabilities - Subjects: Multidisciplinary
Visiting days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Mental disability

En classe, sélection des œuvres pour l’adaptation théâtrale
En classe, sélection des œuvres pour l’adaptation théâtrale_liste

© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier


Based on the idea that the integration of individuals with disabilities can be achieved through the adoption of common cultural references, a tour of the Musée du Louvre is essential for young people with special needs (PDD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down syndrome, and other disorders). By drawing on abilities most of these students have difficulty developing, the acts of finding one’s bearings in a museum and choosing and talking about an artwork help improve confidence, emotional control, and speaking and writing skills.

The aim of the museum visit is to enable students to:
- see original works at the museum
- make a choice and discuss it with others
- acquaint themselves with an artwork by producing a written text inspired by it, and then acting out a scene based on the work
- locate and identify the works during a second visit.


Materials required

- A camera
- Pencils and paper

Visite au Louvre et choix d’une œuvre par chaque élève
Visite au Louvre et choix d’une œuvre par chaque élève_vignette

© 2010 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

1Works are selected by students during a visit to the Louvre

Denon wing, 1st floor - Room 6. The Wedding Feast at Cana, Paolo Caliari, known as Veronese, 1562-1563. Oil on canvas.  H. 6.77 m; W. 9.94 m

Students acquaint themselves with works of art in several stages. The first and most important of these is a visit to the museum. The students choose a work, which will then be the focus of several activities at the museum and in the classroom – observing the work; giving an oral, written or pictorial explanation of the student’s choice; writing scenes to be presented as tableaux; staging; and performing in front of an audience.

First, adults accompany groups of five to six students on a walk around the rooms. Unaided by the adults in charge, the students choose one work each. Once their choice is made, they write down the names of the work and the artist they have chosen. They can engage in a discussion with the accompanying adult or their classmates while looking at the work. However, the in-depth discussion regarding the student’s choice, impressions, and interpretation of the work takes place in the classroom. While at the museum, the accompanying adult should only get involved to ensure students can justify their choices, or to provide some information about the work, but without influencing students’ choices. Ideally, the adult should intervene as little as possible.
As an example, a student once chose Paolo Veronese’s painting The Wedding Feast at Cana because he thought it depicted “a party, something happy”. The teacher then asks about the central figure – to see whether the students recognize him – and then about the people sitting around him. The students are encouraged to research the topic later on in class.

En classe, sélection des œuvres pour l’adaptation théâtrale
En classe, sélection des œuvres pour l’adaptation théâtrale_vignette

© 2007 Musée du Louvre / Angèle Dequier

2Works are selected for in-class theatrical adaptation

Denon wing, 1st floor - Room 75. The Entombment of Atala (also known as “The Burial of Atala”), Anne Louis Girodet de Roussy-Trioson, 1808. Oil on canvas. H. 2.07 m; W. 2.67 m.

This activity takes places in the classroom. Together, students and teachers select the works that are best suited to theatrical adaptation - a good example being Girodet’s painting of the burial of Atala. Each work is then made into a scene, and together, the scenes form a play composed of several tableaux.
When discussing their choice, students and teachers will find that some works are more difficult to stage than others. Sometimes, however, discussion and reactions can provide writing ideas.

Students write about the selected works. First, they describe in writing what they see and feel. If written expression proves difficult for a student, the teacher will ask them to express themselves orally. In some cases, students express themselves by drawing the work in question. Next come mime and improvisation.  Adults collect students’ input, in all its forms, and edit it to produce the final (or nearly finished) scripts.
Once the works have been selected, groups of students from special education units and standard middle school classes can work together on a choreography involving dance and gymnastics. The groups bring one or two works to life by acting them out through movement - to the best of their abilities.

Finally, teachers cast the show – to be performed in front of an audience – basing their selection on students’ personalities and on which scene would suit them best. Students’ skills and abilities should be taken into account when making staging decisions. All students put forward writing, mimes, songs or music inspired by the work in question. Every scene acted out by the students refers to a particular work whose reproduction is placed on an easel facing the audience, and gradually unveiled.

Retour devant les œuvres au musée
Retour devant les œuvres au musée_vignette

© 2003 RMN / Gérard Blot / Hervé Lewandowski

3Works are revisited at the museum

Denon wing, Ground floor - Daru staircase. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, c. 190 BC Marble. H. 3.28 m.

During this second visit to the Musée du Louvre, students look at the studied works through fresh eyes, gaining a deeper understanding. In small groups accompanied by an adult, they should find their chosen works with the help of their maps. Once in front of the works in question, students write down a few ideas based on the preparation done in class ahead of the visit. They are also free to improvise and express new views and impressions. In groups of five or six, students sit down facing their chosen works, and draw or write anything that comes to mind, taking as long as they want.