7 Interesting Facts About the Louvre Museum in Paris

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interesting facts about the Louvre museum

As far as popular attractions go, The Louvre in Paris is up there as one of the most popular in the world. In fact, it has staggering 15,000 visitors per year or an annual figure of 9.3 million. The reason for its popularity is that is home to some of the most famous art pieces in the world as well as a huge array of galleries and subjects. On the whole, this impressive building is a tourist attraction with a difference. So what are just some of the top facts about the Louvre museum that make it such a popular attraction?

It’s the Biggest Museum in the World

view over the louvre museum

Unbelievably, The Louvre is the biggest museum in the world and that means that it is impossible to see it all in one visit. In fact, if you wanted to take in all 38,000 pieces of art it would take several months although not all of the collection is available the public. As the biggest museum in the world, it is a popular choice for tourists with over 70% of visitors being foreign tourists.

The Louvre and World War II

artwork inside the louvre

As Germany picked apart France during the war, the Nazis decided that the Louvre would become their storeroom. However, it was not used as a storeroom for weapons. They decided to use it to store their stolen artwork, of which there was a lot.

The Famous Glass Pyramid

the louvre glass pyramid at night

Everyone recognised the famous glass pyramid. This unmistakable feature was built in 1989 and stretches up to a height of 21 metres. It is made of glass and metal but during the design stage there was a significant amount of controversy. The architect, I. M. Pei was the first non-French architect to carry out work on the Louvre. What many people also fail to realise is that the glass pyramid is actually one of four. There are another three smaller pyramids that can be found around the cour Napoleon courtyard.

The Idea Came from a Castle Fortress

Before French King Philip II headed off for the crusades in 1190, he requested the fortification of the Seine area along the western border of Paris to protect against any threats. As part of this structure, a castle was built that had its own moat and defensive towers. While it was also a prison where undesirables were housed. 

Over time, as Paris became more urbanised, it meant that the tower was no longer needed and so, in the 1500s, King Francis I build his home on the same site. He was an art lover and so, his collection of art and his home were an indication for what the Louvre would eventually become. In 1793, a small section of the Louvre was opened to the public.

The Mona Lisa was Stolen from The Louvre

mona lisa painting

The world-famous Mona Lisa became part of a famous heist in 1911. A group of three Italian men meticulously planned to take the Mona Lisa from its home. To achieve this, they hid in the Museum during the night before removing the painting from the wall and making a dash for the exit in full view of the public. Two years later, it was still missing but one of them made an attempt to sell it. A dealer became suspicious and informed the police. It is believed that the media coverage that followed this helped it to become the famous painting that it is today.

The Louvre Allows Copyists

inside glass pyramid of the louvre

Of course, any museum forbids the use of forgeries, but the Louvre allows artists to replicate the famous works that adorn the walls. Each day, between 9:30 and 1:30, “Copyists" are allowed to set up their easels and begin working on their own replicas. The louvre allows this to help artists learn about the process behind creating these masterpieces. However, to ensure that they cannot be used or sold, the museum requests that the canvas size differs to that of the original.

It Was a Retreat for Artists

exterior of the louvre

Before art was put on display for the public to enjoy, the Louvre was known as an artists retreat, where it invited artists to stay and work on site, turning it into a creative retreat. In 1608, Henri IV began to offer artists the chance to live in the Louvre and have their own studio there. Here they could sculpt, paint and do what they wanted but once the 18th century had arrived, the building was left in a mess and so, the artists were eventually asked to leave.

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