Published on May 18, 2015 | by Andrea Guerriero0
20 Interesting Facts About The Louvre
The Louvre is not only the largest museum in the world, but also one of the most esteemed. Arguably it’s Paris’ most visited attraction as it sees over 9.3 million visitors a year – which is no mean feat. Its collection of 35,000 priceless masterpieces, antiques and classic and contemporary makes it one of the most vast art galleries for its breadth of subjects, ranging from the 6th century BC to the 19th century.
- The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world – it’s so big that it’s actually impossible to see all of the museum in one visit
- It would actually take you 100 days to see every piece of art in the Louvre, if you spent 30 seconds at each piece, all day every day for 100 days…
- The Musee du Louvre was never originally a museum, it was actually a fortress built in 1190. The Louvre was turned from a fortress into a royal palace in the 16th century
- In 1793, after the French monarchy had moved out to Palace of Versailles, the first Louvre Museum opened with a collection of only 537 paintings
- Under Napoleon’s reign the museum was renamed Musée Napoleon and he expanded the collection before over 5,000 pieces were returned to their original owners once he was defeated
- The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous pieces of art in the Louvre and is so valuable it’s even protected with bullet proof glass and has its own body guards. It was however stolen in 1911 before being returned to the museum 2 years later! The Mona Lisa isn’t as big as everyone thinks, its dimensions are actually 21 x 30 inches (53 x 77 cms) – slightly bigger than an A2 piece of paper
- Now, the Louvre contains about 7,500 paintings, of which about 66% are by French artists
- The Louvre’s galleries are displayed over 652,300 square feet – nearly 15 acres – and are divided into eight departments: Near Eastern Antiquities, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities, Islamic Art, Sculptures, Decorative Arts, Paintings, and Prints and Drawings.
- The Louvre wasn’t always used as a museum, as we know, but during World War II the Nazis used the Louvre as a storeroom for stolen art
- If you believe in ghosts, there’s a mummy called Belphegor who is said to haunt the museum. The nearby Tuileries Gardens are also said to be haunted by a man dressed in red.
- The Louvre’s glass pyramid was built in 1989 and is a 21m high structure made entirely of glass and metal. It has now has become one of the city’s most recognisable landmarks. There was some controversy about I.M. Pei, the architect of the glass pyramid, who was the first non-French architect to work on the Louvre. The glass pyramid is actually one of four, with three smaller glass pyramids surrounding it in the courtyard, Cour Napoleon.
- The Louvre is the most popular museum in the world welcoming over 15,000 visitors per day, 70% of whom are foreign tourists
- The Axe historique is a 5km architectural line of monuments running through central Paris to the west – the Louvre is nucleus, in the middle of the Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Arche of La Defense and the obelisk of the Place de la Concorde
- The Louvre Museums extend outside of the confines of the 16th century palace and museum, it even joins onto the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix and fronts onto Paris’ oldest park, the Tuileries Gardens
- The Louvre has over 380,000 pieces in total in its collections – just not all are on show…
- Under Napoleon’s rule, he took the Mona Lisa and hung it in his private bedroom. The only other time she hasn’t hung in the Louvre was when Jaqueline Kennedy arranged for the Mona Lisa to tour museums in New York and Washington DC.
- 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 2015
- Mona Lisa’s smile and identity has been a source of debate for centuries – but no one can come to a decision about who she is or why she is smiling that way. Some say she the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, others say she’s a self-portrait and an allusion to Leonardo da Vinci’s presumed homosexuality. The Mona Lisa’s real name is La Gioconda in Italian – which could refer to the name of the wife of Franceso del Giocondo
- One of the other famous paintings in the Louvre is the Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix whose painting celebrates the 1830 Revolution. It was designed as a political poster and Delacroix even painted himself into the picture as the man on the left in the top hat!
- In 2014 the museum welcomed over 9.3 million visitors – the most people it has ever welcomed since opening
To champion this popular museum and art gallery, the team at The Paris Pass decided to look at the 20 most fascinating facts about the Louvre to serve as a reminder of why this museum is one of the best museums in the whole world.
The Louvre is a museum rich with culture, history and heritage and a visit to the museum will leave you enlightened and inspired. From the iconic Mona Lisa and her enigmatic smile, to the modern glass pyramid in the courtyard, the Louvre Museum is famous for both past and present – and you won’t be disappointed!
Now that you know everything about the Louvre why not browse our fine selection of Louvre Tours:
- Skip the Line – Grand Louvre Museum Walking Tour – This tour lets you skip the normal lines to the Louvre. Spend more time exploring the museum by avoiding the queue.
- Mona Lisa and Best of the Louvre Museum Semi-Private Tour – Go on a fully guided tour of the greatest masterpieces within these famed walls on an exclusive skip the line experience
- Semi-Private Louvre Museum by Night Art and Wine Experience – Get to experience the Louvre in a different light – literally! – with this little secret: when most tourists have finished their sightseeing for the day, the Louvre remains open to those few travelers who are in the know and looking for a unique and less-crowded way to experience its wonders.
- Private Expert Walking Tour of the Louvre Museum – Tour the Louvre with a licensed private guide and learn about the history of the building which goes back to the 12th Century.
- Louvre Crash Course Private Walking Seminar – A private, scholar-led tour of the Louvre’s collection. In the company of a knowledgable art historian, during the three-hour tour we will explore this venerable institution’s most significant collections, weaving a timeline of art and history using the Louvre’s masterpieces.