The Louvre in Paris is the epitome of museums. So here are some facts about the Louvre Museum you should really know.
The Louvre is not just a museum, it’s one of the most famous tourist attractions in Paris as well and the Louvre Pyramid is one of the best-recognized monuments in the city.
The museum is huge, and that translates into the number of art objects it houses. The Louvre displays over 35,000 pieces of art dating from pre-historic to the 21st Century.
Let’s check out some interesting facts about the Louvre Museum in Paris, the biggest art museum in the world.
1. The Louvre is huge
We just said that it’s the biggest art museum in the world and really want to stress this fact. It’s enormous.
The Louvre is divided into eight departments:
- Egyptian Antiquities
- Near Eastern Antiquities
- Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities
- Islamic Art
- Decorative Arts
- Prints and Drawings
All items are housed in a space of 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet).
If you plan to visit the Louvre, make sure to wear fitting walking shoes as you’ll need them.
2. 100 days needed to see it all
If you want to see every object in the Louvre, you’ll need to take a lot of days off from work.
In fact, you would probably have to quit as it would take you over 100 days to watch every object in the Louvre for just 30 seconds.
That’s 100 days straight without any sleep, just so you know.
3. The Louvre was once a fortress
Originally, the Louvre wasn’t a museum at all. It was built as the “Louvre Castle” in the 12th and 13th centuries under King Phillip II.
In the 16th century, the castle was transformed into a Royal Palace. It became the primary residence of the French Kings.
It’s only since 1682 that the Royal Families started living in the Palace of Versailles just outside Paris.
Since 1692, The Louvre was already being used for displaying the art collection of the Kings.
4. Remains of the fortress
The Louvre Castle, the original building until it transformed into the Royal Palace, still has some remains.
An interesting fact about the Louvre Museum is that you can actually see the remains of the medieval Louvre in its basement.
5. The Musée Naopléon
The infamous Napoléon Bonaparte actually renamed the museum during his reign. That period was simply referred to as the “Musée Napoléon.”
He also expanded the collection of art inside the museum tremendously.
When he was defeated, however, the illegally obtained pieces (about 5,000) were returned to their rightful owners.
6. Napoléon liked the Mona Lisa
The Mona Lisa is one of the most famous pieces of art in the world, created by one of the most talented people in history. Clearly, that’s something Napoléon knew all too well.
In fact, it’s one of the most valuable paintings in museums today.
He liked the Mona Lisa so much that he actually hung it on his bedroom wall.
How about that for sweet dreams?
7. The Mona Lisa was stolen
This won’t happen again, we can assure you.
However, back in 1911, the Mona Lisa was actually stolen, only to be returned to the Louvre Museum 2 years later.
Right now it sits behind bulletproof glass and has its own bodyguards.
8. The opening of the Louvre was a bit more humble
At the moment the Louvre has over 38,000 pieces of art on display.
When the museum opened its doors to the public back in 1793, there were only 537 paintings on display though.
Most of these were from the collection of the Royal family and also some confiscated church property.
9. Huge increase in pieces
During the Second French Empire under Napoléon III, the collection grew with more than 20,000 pieces.
Please note that the second French Empire only lasted from 1852 until 1870. This means over 20,000 pieces of art were added to the collection in just 18 years.
Napoléon III, which was the nephew of Napoléon Bonaparte, must have really loved his art.
10. The Mona Lisa is really small
Back to the Mona Lisa again as it’s the world’s most famous painting after all.
An interesting fact about the most famous painting in the Louvre Museum is that it’s relatively small.
The painting is only is just 21 x 30 inches (53.34cm x 76.2cm). That’s just the size of a piece of A2 paper.
11. The Louvre Museum and the Nazis
It’s a fact that Adolph Hitler was a fervent art enthusiast. It’s also a fact that he raged a war and plundered rich Jewish families’ belongings.
So where does a plundering dictator go with all his stolen goods?
Since he already invaded and conquered Paris, he just deposited them in the biggest museum in the world, the Louvre.
12. 7,500 paintings
Of the 38,000 pieces of art that are on display in the Louvre Museum, about 7,500 are paintings.
These paintings are collections from painters all around the world.
Most paintings though are from native painters. About 66% of all paintings are from painters born in France.
13. The Louvre Pyramid(s)
When entering the Louvre, you need to enter inside a glass pyramid. This structure, completely made from glass and steel was built in 1989.
When you go to the Louvre, you would expect it to be much bigger honestly, as it’s only 21 meters (68ft) tall.
Another interesting fact about the pyramid of the Louvre Museum is that it’s actually surrounded by 3 smaller pyramids in the courtyard.
14. How many items does the Louvre own?
We already told you that the Louvre Museum has over 35,000 pieces of art on display for the public.
Do you know how many pieces of art the Louvre Museum actually owns?
Wat less than 10% are on display as the museum actually owns over 460,000 pieces of art!
We told you it’s a massive place right?
15. Do you believe in ghosts?
If so, then the Louvre might be something you want to scratch from your bucket list.
There’s a story going around that a mummy called Belphegor actually haunts the museum.
Oh yeah, and better scratch the nearby Tuileries Gardens as well. The ghost of a man dressed in red is causing trouble over there.
16. The museum was saved from a huge fire
In 1871 when the French army advanced inside Paris, a huge fire broke out. This fire destroyed the Tuileries Palace next to the Louvre.
Even worse, it spread to the Louvre Museum as well.
Luckily alert firemen and museum employees were able to control the fire from spreading further, saving the Louvre Museum in the process.
17. The Museum as it is now was completed in 1874
The Louvre is a near rectangular building. It consists of:
- The Sully Wing to the east.
- The Cour Carrée (the courtyard where the pyramid is located).
- The Richelieu Wing to the north.
- The Denon Wing to the south
The Denon wing borders the Seine and is together with the Richelieu Wing the oldest building of the Louvre.
18. The world’s most visited museum
The Louvre has numerous world-famous pieces of art. The Mona Lisa is just one of the hundreds of pieces of art that just about anybody knows.
With a collection like that, you’re bound to draw a huge crowd.
And the Louvre does just that.
Every day, more than 15,000 people visit the Louvre, and almost 70% of the visitors are foreigners.
In 2018 alone, over 10.2 million people visited the Louvre Museum.
This sometimes results in long lines at the more famous pieces of art.
19. The first museum blockbuster exhibitions
Apart from it being stolen back in 1911 by an Italian criminal, and hanging on Naopléon’s bedroom wall, the Mona Lisa never left its spot.
The only time this did happen though was because of Jackie Kennedy, the First Lady at the time.
50 years after the Mona Lisa was returned to the Louvre after the theft, Jackie Kennedy was able to convince French officials to showcase it in New York and Washington D.C.
These were known as the first museum blockbuster exhibitions.
20. There are 2 Louvres
Since 2017, there is actually been a second Louvre in the world. It opened its doors in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Nobody else than French President Emmanuel Macron, United Arab Emirates Vice President Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurated the Abu Dhabi Louvre on November 8, 2017.
21. Where does the word “Louvre” come from?
It remains unclear, but there are 3 theories. Which one do you think it is?
- From an old Latin-Saxon glossary in which “Leouar” is translated as a castle.
- From the Latin “Rubras”, meaning ‘”red soil.”
- From the French “louveterie”, a “place where dogs were trained to chase wolves.”
Which one do you think it is?
Either way, the Louvre is the most famous, biggest and most visited museum in the whole world and is definitely worth a visit (or multiple).