The Louvre Palace is a former royal palace located on the Right Bank of the Seine in Paris. Originally a fortress built in the medieval period, it became a royal palace in the 14th century under Charles V and was used from time to time by the kings of France as their main Paris residence.
In 1546, Francis I renovated the site in French Renaissance style. Francis acquired what would become the nucleus of the Louvre’s holdings, his acquisitions including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
After Louis XIV chose Versailles as his residence in 1682, constructions slowed; however, the move permitted the Louvre to be used as a residence for artists.
In 1793 part of the Louvre became a public museum, now the celebrated Musée du Louvre, which has expanded to occupy most of the building.
The present-day Louvre Palace is a vast complex of wings and pavilions on four main levels which, although it looks to be unified, is the result of many phases of building, modification, destruction and restoration.
The Louvre Pyramid was built in the 1980s as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum by Chinese American architect I.M. Pei. The modern glass structure, which forms a nice contrast with the historic facades of the Louvre, has become a landmark in its own right. It is surrounded by three smaller pyramids.
Although there are more than 380,000 pieces of art housed at the Louvre, “only” approximately 35,000 are on display.
Those 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square meters (652,300 square feet).
The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Near Eastern Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Decorative Arts, Sculptures, and Islamic Art.
With over 7,500 artworks, the Paintings department is probably the most loved part of the museum.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is undoubtedly one of the most famous pieces of art in the Louvre, with people from all walks of life travelling to the museum to catch a glimpse of the world famous painting. Mona Lisa is now housed behind bullet proof glass in its own climate-controlled room.
The two most well knows statues in the museum are the Venus of Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace.
Venus de Milo also known as Aphrodite of Milos is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Sculpture was created around 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty (Venus to the Romans).
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothrace, is a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory).
Other popular works include the Code of Hammurabi, Michelangelo’s tragic sculpture “The Dying Slave” and Antonio Canova’s 18th-century sculpture “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss.” Eugene Delacroix’s “Liberty Leading the People,” which depicts the bare-breasted Liberty goddess leading a charge in the French Revolution, and is thought to have inspired Victor Hugo’s “Les Miserables,” andJacques-Louis David’s “The Coronation of Napoleon” [pic. below] was commissioned by Napoleon himself and is a good reminder of the Louvre’s history.
Napoleon once renamed the Louvre to Musée Napoleon and expanded its collection by 5,000 pieces. The pieces were, however, returned to the original owners when the military leader was defeated. During his rule, Napoleon hung the Mona Lisa in his private bedroom.
During World War II the museum removed most of the art and hid valuable pieces. When Germany occupied the Sudetenland, many important artworks such as the Mona Lisa were temporarily moved to the Château de Chambord. When war was formally declared a year later, most of the museum’s paintings were sent there as well. Select sculptures such as Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo were sent to the Château de Valençay.
Today the Louvre Museum is the world’s most visited museum, averaging 15,000 visitors per day, 65 percent of whom are foreign tourists.
In 2015, the Musée du Louvre welcomed 8.6 million visitors, maintaining its position as the most popular museum in the world (9.3 million visitors in 2014). Overall, close to 9 million people came to admire the Louvre’s collections in Paris and Lens.
It would take 100 days to see everything in the Louvre if you looked at each item for 30 seconds, all day without a break.
The Louvre is owned by the French government; however, since the 1990s it has become more independent.
There are to be two Louvre Museums in the world, the second one will be the Louvre Abu Dhabi – the first universal museum in the Arab World – to be completed in 2016.