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Exploring the Louvre Museum: About, History and Highlights

You can explore the immense Louvre Museum beyond the famous Mona Lisa.

The museum is a treasure trove of 480,000 artworks, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative art. 

For an art lover, the Louvre collection is a dream come true. 

If you’re heading to the Louvre Museum, learning about the various collections for an enriching visit is wise.

This article shares with you the history, must-see exhibits, and more about the Louvre Museum.

Why Should You Visit The Louvre Museum

The Louvre Museum in Paris is a fascinating place that started as a fortress in the 12th century and later became the home of French kings. 

After the French Revolution in 1789, it was chosen to protect the country’s art treasures. 

Today, the Louvre is a world-renowned museum with over 380,000 artworks. 

While only 35,000 are on permanent display, it’s still the largest art museum globally. 

The Louvre offers a diverse journey through human creativity, from ancient Egyptian artifacts to modern prints. 

It’s not just a museum; it’s an exciting experience connecting history and art. 

A visit to the Louvre is necessary for art lovers and anyone curious about our cultural heritage.

12 Amazing Facts about the Louvre Museum

1. The Louvre is the Most-Visited Art Museum in the World

  • The Louvre is the world’s most visited museum, drawing over 10 million visitors in 2018.
  • Despite a 72% drop in attendance in 2020, it still welcomes around 15,000 daily visitors.

2. The Louvre’s Galleries Span Over 15 Acres

  • Originally a fortress, the Louvre is now the largest museum globally, covering 652,300 square feet.
  • It holds an impressive collection of 480,000 artworks spanning 15 acres.

3. The Lourve was Originally a Fortress

  • Constructed in 1190 as a fortress, it later became a royal residence in the 14th century.
  • Amidst the French Revolution of 1793, it opened as Muséum Central des Arts de la République.

4. The Louvre was Named After Napolean for 11 Years

  • Renamed Musée Napoléon in 1803 during Napoleon’s expansion project.
  • It reverted to the Louvre in 1815 after Napoleon’s abdication.

5. The Mona Lisa was Stolen in 1911

  • Stolen in 1911, the Mona Lisa gained fame during her two-year disappearance.
  • Recovered after an attempt to sell it, she returned as the world’s most famous painting.

6. The Louvre was Empty During World War II

  • Jacques Jaujard safeguarded artworks during WWII by relocating them.
  • The Louvre greeted invading Nazis with empty frames, having protected its treasures.

7. Mona Lisa’s Mysterious Smile and Allied Communication

  • Jaujard communicated coded messages to the Allies during the war.
  • Dispersed artworks were returned by 1947, unharmed despite potential damage.

8. Nazis Stored Looted Art In The Louvre

  • The Nazis stored looted art in the Louvre during WWII.
  • The museum aims to return these artworks to their rightful owners.

9. 66% of the Paintings in the Louvre are Works of French Artists

  • The Louvre holds over 7,500 paintings, over 66% of which are by French artists.
  • Famous French paintings include The Raft of the Medusa and Liberty Leading the People.

10. There are Actually Five Pyramids in the Louvre

  • Besides the I. M. Pei Pyramid, there are four more, including the inverted pyramid.
  • The pyramids help highlight the museum’s collection with strategic light placements.

11. Some Think the Louvre is Haunted

  • The Louvre has ghostly tales, with reports of three spirits, including ‘Jack the Skinner.’
  • Halls are rumored to be haunted by a mummy named Belphegor.

12. The world has two Louvre Museums

  • Abu Dhabi has a second Louvre museum, completed in 2016.
  • It costs over €600 million and is the second-largest art museum on the Arabian peninsula.

History of the Louvre Museum

The history of the Louvre Museum started in the 12th century when the Louvre Palace started as a fortress commissioned by King Philip II to protect Paris.

The construction, initiated in 1190, just before the king departed for the crusades, laid the foundation for what would evolve into a historic landmark.

During the 13th century, Charles V played an essential role in transforming the fortress into a castle. 

Between 1364 and 1380, under the guidance of architect Raymond du Temple, the structure underwent a renovation.

After the renovation, it emerged as a beautiful royal residence with multiple rooms and an expansive library.

The 14th century witnessed a shift in preference among French monarchs, leading to the demolition of the castle by Francis I. 

However, this marked the beginning of a rebuilding phase in the Renaissance style, initiated by King Francis I, contributing to the architectural richness of the Louvre.

In the 15th century, the Louvre Palace saw royal additions and modifications. 

Louis XIII made significant contributions, while Catherine de Medici’s vision led to the proposal and construction of the Tuileries Palace. 

King Henry IV’s creation of the Grande Galerie in 1610 further strengthened the connection between the Louver and Tuileries.

The 17th century heralded a significant transformation, marking the beginning of the Louvre’s journey into becoming a museum. 

Inhabited by artists, noblemen, and intellectuals, the palace garnered attention, prompting King Louis XVI to respond to public demand. 

In 1793, the Louvre officially opened its doors as a museum, showcasing the royal art collection to the public.

The 18th century witnessed the influence of Napoleon, who added a new gallery in 1815, extending the Louvre Palace. 

This trend continued under Napoleon III with the addition of two new wings.

In the 19th century, the Louvre faced challenges with a fire that destroyed the nearby Tuileries Palace in 1871. 

However, the Louvre itself remained untouched. 

Construction continued, introducing iconic elements like the glass pyramid and expanding its art collections.

This continuous construction solidified its reputation as one of the world’s largest art museums.

Must-see Louvre Museum Exhibits

The Louvre Museum houses over 35,000 artworks, including paintings, sculptures, sketches and more. 

However, visiting all the artworks during a three to four-hour visit is nearly impossible. 

Here are some of the best artworks in the Louvre you should not miss. 

Mona Lisa

Crafted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, the Mona Lisa is an unparalleled masterpiece in art. 

Renowned for its mysterious smile and gaze, this painting has held the spotlight in the museum for nearly two centuries.

Liberty Leading the People

Painted by Eugène Delacroix, this iconic work became part of the Louvre Museum in 1874. 

The painting depicts Liberty as a woman holding the French flag and a bayoneted musket.

It symbolizes the spirit of freedom and revolution.

The Venus de Milo

Discovered in 1820 on the Greek island of Milos, the Venus de Milo is an iconic sculpture without its original arms. 

Despite the wear of time, its timeless elegance is a captivating piece in the Louvre.

Winged Victory of Samothrace

Originating from Ancient Greece, this marble sculpture portrays Nike, the goddess of victory. 

Standing about 8 feet tall, it is a celebrated masterpiece in the Western world.

It is believed to commemorate a significant triumph, possibly a naval victory.

Great Sphinx of Tanis

Dating back to the 26th century BC, the Great Sphinx of Tanis is among the largest sphinx sculptures outside of Egypt. 

Carved from granite, this detailed masterpiece highlights the Egyptian Antiquities section, showcasing the rich history of ancient civilizations.

The Ceiling of the Galerie d’Apollon

Hd’Apollone French Crown Jewels, the Galerie d’Apollon bd’Apollonh vaulted ceilings adorned with breathtaking artwork. 

As one of the oldest sections of the museum, it stands as a heritage site, captivating visitors with its artistic splendor and historical significance.

FAQs about Exploring the Louvre Museum

1. How extensive is the Louvre collection?

The Louvre collection comprises approximately 450,000 artifacts and 35,000 works of art spread across eight curatorial departments.

2. Do I require tickets to access the Louvre collection?

Yes, admission tickets to the Louvre museum are necessary to explore the entire Louvre collection. You can book your tickets here.

3. What does the Louvre collection include?

The Louvre collection encompasses paintings, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, Roman Antiquities, Near Eastern Antiquities, Decorative, Islamic, and Graphic arts.

4. Which artworks are highlights of the Louvre collection?

Some notable artworks in the Louvre collection are the Mona Lisa, The Cheat with the Ace of Diamonds, Liberty Leading the People, Alexander the Great in Babylon, and The Raft of the Medusa.

5. Is the complete Louvre collection on display?

While the Louvre collection is vast, around 35,000 items are typically displayed at any given time.

6. What types of antiques are part of the Louvre collection?

Egyptian antiquities, ancient Greek and Roman sculptures, Old Master paintings, royal jewels, and items from French aristocrats are included in the Louvre collection.

7. Is there a dress code at the Louvre Museum?

There’s no mandatory dress code, but comfortable shoes and carrying water are recommended for the extensive walk. 

Walking sticks and foldable chairs can be borrowed for free from the Museum Centre.

8. Are photography and drawing allowed in the Louvre?

Photography is permitted for personal use, while freehand lead pencil sketches on paper or light cardboard are allowed, provided they don’t obstruct others.

9. Does the Louvre offer activities for children?

Yes, the Louvre conducts various activities for children, such as workshops and storytelling sessions at the Studio. 
However, these activities are conducted in French.

Featured Image: Britannica.com

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