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The Louvre Museum: From Fortress to Museum

Ishwari Pamu May 31, 2019
The baroque-style palace that houses the largest museum in the world sits on the right-banks of the Seine river and dates back to the 12th century. The Louvre museum showcases one of the most vast collections in history, ranging from ancient civilizations to the 21st century.

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Louvre: A History

The Louvre was remodelled as a royal palace in the 16th century, after it was originally built as a fortress in 1190.
In 1682, Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles. This permitted the royal residence to be recognized as a residence for artists, under his royal patronage.
After many failed proposals during the mid-18th century, it took the French Revolution for the Louvre to be metamorphosed into a public museum. It was then that the National Assembly declared it as “a place for bringing together monuments of all sciences and arts”.
In August 1792, after imprisonment of Louis XVI, the royal collection displayed in the Louvre became national property.

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In august 1793, a year that marked the end of monarchy, the museum opened with a collection of 537 paintings and 184 objects of art, and the public was given free access to the museum for 3 days a week.

Fast Forward to the 20th Century

The iconic steel-and-glass pyramid structure in the courtyard, along with the underground lobby situated in the centre of the Cour Napoléon were designed by the American architect I.M. Pei.
A new wing that has 230,000 sq. ft. of exhibition space was also designed by I.M. Pei. It houses collections of Islamic artwork and European paintings.

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With a collection of 460,000 objects, there are around 35,000 artworks divided into eight curatorial departments that are displayed at the Louvre.

Must See Exhibits at the Louvre

  • The Winged Victory of Samothrace
  • The Venus de Milo
  • The Raft of the Medusa
  • Liberty Leading the People
  • The Coronation of Napoleon
  • The Wedding at Cana
  • The Dying Slave and the Rebellious Slave
  • Grande Odalisque
  • The Lamassu
  • Sleeping Hermaphroditus
  • Mona Lisa

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The Louvre is open to public every day but Tuesday. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, and from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, as per the Louvre (official site). It is the most visited museums in the world and around 10.2 million people visited in 2018.