Musee du Louvre - History and Facts | History Hit

Musee du Louvre

Paris, Ile-de-France, France

Musee du Louvre is a twelfth century fort turned palace and today stands as one of the world’s foremost art museums.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Musee du Louvre

Musee du Louvre, also known as, the Grand Louvre or just The Louvre, is one of the world’s foremost art museums, exhibiting over 35,000 works from around the globe and throughout history.

Musee du Louvre history

The building in which Musee du Louvre is housed has a fascinating history of its own, having started life as a fortress built by Philippe Auguste to protect Paris from the Anglo-Normans. It later became a royal palace of King Louis XIV.

The Louvre opened as a museum in 1793. At the time when the museum first opened its doors it was called the Musee Central des Arts and only opened at weekends, with admission being free, priority admission was given to artists over the general public.

At the time of this museum in Paris opening, there were mainly paintings that had been obtained from French royalty and aristocrats, who no longer resided in France, and these were displayed within the Salon Carre and the Grande Galerie.

Nevertheless, after the French Revolution, the collections ending up getting enlarged rather quickly and spread to other apartments and when Napoleon Bonaparte I came to power he enriched the collection dramatically from his conquests.

The history and archaeology of The Louvre is explored on the lower ground floor of the museum in room 3.

Musee du Louvre today

The Louvre’s eight departments cover an extensive array of historical periods and artistic genres, each represented through the museum’s permanent and temporary exhibits. Amongst these exhibits, The Louvre holds Near Eastern and Egyptian antiquities, Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities, Islamic art, sculptures and paintings as well as decorative arts, prints and drawings.

Some of the most famous pieces held by The Louvre include the Jewels of Rameses II and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.

Set over 60,000 square meters, Musee du Louvre can be fairly daunting, but guided tours and audio tours are available in English and French lasting ninety minutes. Tours can be historically themed.

Getting to Musee du Louvre

The Louvre Museum is located on the right bank of the Seine, between the Rue de Rivoli and the Seine, in the first arrondissement of Paris. It is easily recognizable by the large glass pyramid in the centre of the main courtyard (cour Napoléon).

The equestrian statue of King Louis XIV, located near the entrance, marks the start of the Axe Historique (historical axis), that links the Louvre Palace to the Grande Arche de la Défense, going through the Tuileries Garden, the Place de la Concorde, the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe.

The closest metro stops to the Musee du Louvre are Musée du Louvre (Line 67), Palais-Royal (Line 1) or Pyramides (Line 14). If travelling by bus, use routes 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95.

If travelling by car, visitors with disabilities are entitled to a reduced car park rate – this can be organised at the dedicated area for visitors with special needs under the Pyramid.

Featured In

Top Paris Historic Sites

The City of Light has captured the hearts and minds of all who wander through it for centuries. Here's our pick of 10 of the best historic sites to visit while you're there.

Roman Sites France

Delve into France's fascinating Roman history by exploring the best Roman Sites in France. Highlights include La Maison Carrée and Lapidaire Museum.

Paris Historic Sites

Discover the best historical locations in Paris, from Les Invalides to Versailles and more, includes an interactive map of Paris' cultural landmarks, monuments and museums.