The Louvre, Paris

The Palace and its Collections

In 1190, under the reign of King Philippe Auguste, the Louvre castle came into existence. The castle was an arsenal surrounded by thick fortifications and only became a royal residence in 1364. Over several centuries, the palace was transformed by the French monarchs. Between 1595 and 1610, the Grande Galerie was constructed under the reign of Henri IV.

In 1791, an Assembly decree designated the Louvre to the Arts. In 1793, the Museum Central des Arts opened. Since this date, the museum has not stopped growing. The “Grand Louvre” project was created to improve the establishment’s facilities and better present the collections. I.M. Pei’s Glass Pyramid was inaugurated on 30th March 1989. The new rooms of the Department of Islamic Art opened in 2012.

In total, the Louvre has eight departments. The Egyptian Antiquities, the Near Eastern Antiquities; the Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities which are presented beside more modern collections as departments of Paintings and of Sculptures, the Decorative Arts, the Prints and Drawings and the department of Islamic Arts. Overall, 38,000 artworks are presented including universally-admired works such as The Victory of Samothrace, The Seated Scribe, The Winged human-headed bull from Khorsabad, The Mona Lisa, The Slaves of Michelangelo or the Napoleon III apartments.

In front of the palace, the Tuileries Garden is the largest and oldest public park in Paris, created during the Renaissance for Catherine de Medicis. In the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés the Musée Eugene-Delacroix, settled in the artist’s last apartment, houses a collection of paintings, pastels, drawings and lithographs, as well as a large number of letters and mementos by Delacroix.

The Louvre or Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest museums and a historic monument. A central landmark of Paris, France, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (district). Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). With more than 8 million visitors each year, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre), originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation’s masterpieces.

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon. After the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic. As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.

Official Website – www.louvre.fr

The museum is open every day except Tuesday and the following French holidays: January 1, May 1 and December 25.

Opening hours

Monday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Friday: from 9 a.m. to 9:45 p.m.
Closed on Tuesdays
Rooms begin closing 30 minutes before museum closing time.

Entrances to the museum

– Pyramid and Galerie du Carrousel entrances: open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays; and from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.
– Passage Richelieu entrance: open every day (except Tuesday) from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays)
– Porte des Lions entrance: open on Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Opening hours: please contact us at +33 (0)1 40 20 53 17 (except Tuesday).

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