The Louvre Museum is offering a self-guided tour of the art seen in the ‘APESHIT’ video, cementing Jay-Z and Beyonce’s tastemakers status.
Everything is love between the Carters and the Louvre.
Beyonce and Jay-Z’s “APESHIT” video has racked up 61 million views and counting in just the past three weeks, in large part because the music video showing the power couple dancing among masterpieces such as Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo in the Parisian fine arts museum is a visual feast.
Now the Louvre is capitalizing on its new street cred by offering a free self-guided tour of 17 paintings and statues featured prominently in the first video off of the Carters’ new album “EVERYTHING IS LOVE,” including the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” statue that Beyonce vogues in front of while wearing a $140,000 Stephane Rolland wedding dress, and Marie Benoist’s “Portrait of a Negress.” The 90-minute self-guided audio tour (“Jay-Z et Beyonce au Louvre”) is currently only in French, but other languages will eventually be available. Or you can translate the tour in your internet browser using plugins like Chrome’s translate feature. The guide identifies each work of art and gives its historical context.
The Louvre wasn’t hurting for attention, of course. Eight million people visited the world-class cultural institution last year; one million of them (13% of overall attendance) came from the U.S., and more than half (51%) were under 30. The Louvre was the world’s most followed museum on Facebook last year with 2.7 million fans, and the most geotagged on Instagram.
But the Carters are one of the world’s most powerful couples, with a $1.6 billion combined net worth last year. Beyonce boast more than 113 million Instagram followers, and one social media post from her is worth $1 million in advertising. So their celebrity endorsement inspires their fans who haven’t crossed the Atlantic to consider making the trek to the Louvre. And the video also showcases works of art apart from the Mona Lisa, which those who have visited the museum already may have missed; so this can encourage them to go return. In fact, the video was even more well-received than the album, which debuted at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard 200.
“Beyonce and Jay-Z have essentially become backdoor curators of one of the world’s greatest art collections, because they have taken those 17 works and suddenly escalated them to the top of the Louvre,” Syracuse University professor and pop culture expert Robert Thompson told Moneyish. “The Louvre’s 17 must-see pieces are now the ones that they chose; their own greatest hits.”
Marketing expert Mark Zablow, CEO of Cogent Entertainment Marketing, agreed. “The Louvre is already a massive tourist attraction; now it is an ‘Instagram’ attraction for all pop culture junkies,” he said. “The Carters are the new Frommer’s [referring to Arthur Frommer’s series of guide books], with their songs acting as travel guides to must-see cultural experiences.”
Plus, they’re making the museum accessible to a wider audience. “Eight million people are going to the Louvre, but who are those people? Probably upper middle class and wealthy people … who could afford to travel halfway around the world to go,” branding expert Chuck Welch, founder of Rupture Studio, told Moneyish.
But the Carters “could potentially bring in a whole new audience of people who may not have been exposed to this (artwork) earlier, or who may have been uncomfortable going into these institutes of fine art before,” he added. “They take an audience who most likely doesn’t feel accepted or welcomed in these institutions, which can be stodgy and elitist, and they democratize it.” After all, the Carters’ video pointedly featured a diverse dance troupe performing in front of masterpieces that mostly featured white subjects.
And in return, having the means and permission to set their music video in the Louvre, which is estimated to have run between $17,500 and $18,000, gives the Carters even more social cache than they already had. “Jay-Z was one of the first rappers to get into art, and make investing in fine art a thing in the hip-hop community, so (working with the Louvre) shows a level of taste, a level of class,” added Welch. “It gives him another level of credibility in being a tastemaker … threading the needle between fine art and pop art and pop culture like Andy Warhol.”
The Louvre has benefited from star power before. The 2006 murder mystery “The Da Vinci Code” starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, based off of Dan Brown’s best-selling 2003 book, begins with a curator found dead in front of the Mona Lisa. The museum reported record numbers of visitors in the year just before (7.3 million) and after (8.3 million) the movie hit, in part due to fans wanting to visit the real locations of their favorite scenes.
Other museums to enjoy a pop cultural boost in foot traffic include the Museum of Natural History, where Ben Stiller’s “Night in the Museum” series is set. While the museum couldn’t provide attendance numbers at press time, it does offer a self-guided “Night in the Museum” tour of exhibits showcased in the movie, such as the Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and capuchin monkey. It’s free with pay-as-you-wish admission at the door, or general admission tickets are $23 for adults and $13 for kids when bought online.
The Brooklyn Museum is also in the midst of a “David Bowie is” exhibition of 400 objects including 60 custom-made performance costumes, handwritten lyric sheets and drawings from the late music icon’s personal archive. All advance tickets are sold out through the show’s run ending July 15, but a limited number of same-day entry tickets ($20 to $25) are available on a first-come, first-served basis each day, although the museum’s site warns that those sell out quickly, too.
“It’s a natural human tendency to want to go and be present at something that has been immortalized elsewhere, to go stand on the place that was featured in your favorite movie or music video” added Thompson. “You somehow become part of it by actually being there.”
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