The Louvre Museum is one of the world’s largest museums with nearly 35,000 objects being displayed at any time in an exhibit space of 60,600 square meters. Located along the Right Bank of the Seine River in Paris, France, the Louvre is a historic monument and a key Parisian landmark. The Louvre is the most visited museum, hosting nearly 10 million visitors every year.
The Louvre Museum is housed within the larger Louvre Palace, which was originally built as a fortress for Phillip II, in the late 12th century. In the basement of the museum, you will still be able to see the remnants of the fortress. The building has been extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. The Palace of Versailles became the primary residence of Louis XIV in 1682, leaving the Louvre as residence for the home of the royal collection. From about 1692, the Louvre has held a massive collection of Greek and Roman works. During the same year, the facility was occupied by the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture and the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years.
During the French Revolution, the National Assembly officially decreed that the Louvre should display the nation’s masterpieces and operate as a museum.
The official opening of the museum took place in 1793, starting with an exhibition of 537 paintings. The majority of the works came from the royal collection and from painting confiscated church property. The museum was closed during 1796 until 1801, due to many structural problems with the building. Under Napoleon, the museum was increase and renamed Musée Napoléon. However, following the Battle of Waterloo, many of the works were seized by invading armies and returned to their original owners.
The Louvre’s collections grew under the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire, when the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Since the 3rd republic, holdings have steadily grown through donations and gifts. Currently, the total collection has been divided amongst the 8 curatorial departments in the Louvre: Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Roman, and Etruscan Antiquities; Prints and Drawings; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; and Islamic Art.