The Louvre Museum, situated in the heart of Paris in the 1st arrondissement, is one of the world’s most extensive museums, spanning 60,600 square meters of exhibition space, and boasting an impressive collection of nearly 35,000 objects, ranging from prehistory to modern times. With over 8 million visitors annually, the Louvre is the world’s most visited museum.
The museum is housed within the Palais du Louvre, which was initially a fortress built at the end of the 12th century under the reign of Philip II. The remains of the fortress are still visible in the museum’s basement. Over the centuries, the building was enlarged to form the present Palais du Louvre. In 1682, Louis XIV opted to make the Palace of Versailles his primary residence, and the Louvre became a royal collection showcase.
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In 1692, the Louvre was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the’Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which organised the first of a sequence of salons in 1699. The Academy remained at the Louvre for a hundred years. Following the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should become a museum, displaying the country’s masterpieces.
On August 10, 1793, the museum opened its doors to the public with an exhibition of 537 paintings, most of which were confiscated from the church and the royal family. Due to structural issues in the building, the museum was closed between 1796 and 1801. The collection expanded under Napoleon, and the museum was later renamed the Napoleon Museum. Following Napoleon’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo, many of the artworks seized by his armies were returned to their rightful owners. The collection was further expanded during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire, the museum acquired 20,000 more pieces.
Today, the museum’s collection is organized into eight conservation departments: Egyptian Antiquities, Oriental Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Arts of Islam, sculpture, decorative arts, paintings, prints, and drawings.