The Louvre is one of the world famous museums visited by many in the world. Many of us dream of visiting the Louvre, just to have a glimpse of the famous Monalisa. It is not the only famous painting which resides in the Louvre, but many other sculptures and scriptures which make Louvre a place to visit at least once in a lifetime.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, which is a fortress built in the late 12th century under the supervision and rule of King Philip-II. Due to the vast nature of exhibits in the Louvre, the building was extended many times to form the present one which we see today. One can also see some of the remnants of the old palace. Over a period of time, the Louvre underwent many changes.
It was during the French Revolution that Louvre was converted to a public museum. The museum was opened to the public on August 10, 1793, which was also the first anniversary of the monarchy’s demise. The general public was allowed to visit the museum on 3 days a week and showcased 537 paintings and 184 artifacts. During the French Revolution, the army began bringing in more pieces of art from across Europe to establish Louvre as a sign of popular sovereignty.
Initial days soon after the opening of the museum were hectic with many artifacts being hung next to each other, without any labels. Due to some structural deficiencies, the building was closed in May 1796 and re-opened with new lighting and proper labeling of the artifacts on 14 July, 1801.
The Louvre boasts of 380,000 objects, of which 35,000 works of art are displayed in the 8 curatorial departments. Given below is a brief look into the 8 curatorial departments of the Louvre.
- Egyptian antiquities – this dept contains 50,000 pieces of art dating back from the 4000BC to the 4th century. The department’s origin lies in the royal collection but was strengthened by Napolean’s expeditionary trip which brought in lots of artifacts. The Large Spinx is the main attraction, with other artifacts spreading over 20 rooms.
- Near Eastern Antiquities – The items in this department dates back to the earliest time of the nearly near eastern civilization before the arrival of Islam. The department has divided the artifacts based on the 3 geographical locations – Levant, Mesopotamia and Persia.
- Greek, Etruscan, Roman – Artifacts dating back to the Neolithic time to the 6th century.
- Islamic art – this collection spans 13 centuries and 3 continents and contains 5,000 works and 1,000 shards (broken earthenware).
- Sculpture – works created before 1850 are housed in this department.
- Decorative arts – objects from the Middle Ages to the mid 19th century finds place in this department. Most prized works here are pietre dure vases and bronzes.
- Painting – there are more than 6,000 works of art from 13th century to 1848. Monalisa and three lion-like heads are the most popular in this section.
- Prints and drawings – works on paper finds their way to this department. 8,600 works from the royal collection initially built this department, which then continued to expand with other works on paper coming in.
So many artifacts and works on display, makes it one of the most visited places in the world.