Louvre Tickets and Tours
Discover Louvre Treasures
Located on the Right Bank of the Seine River, the Louvre Museum
greets visitors as the largest museum in the world. Approximately 35,000 objects ranging from prehistory through the twenty-first century occupy the Louvre’s 652,000 square feet of space. The magnificent museum had humble beginnings, built by Phillip II in the twelfth century as a fortress. By the fourteenth century, Charles V oversaw the fortress’ renovation to a royal residence. Francis the First revamped the Louvre in French Renaissance style. He also gathered the foundation of the Louvre’s art collection acquiring various works of art, the capstone of which is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
. The Louvre fell out of favor as a palace when Louis XIV
relocated the royal residence to Versailles. During that time artists took residence in the Louvre. During the French Revolution, the Louvre became a public museum. It officially opened to the public on August 10, 1793.
The Louvre experienced steady growth with additional wings added as needed. A major two-phase renovation began in 1988 and finished in 1993. This renovation included the creation of a new entrance and the addition of glass pyramids
in front of the Louvre. The most recent renovation added 3,000 square feet to the Louvre in 2012. The Louvre’s extensive collections are curated by eight separate departments:
• Egyptian Antiquities
• Near Eastern Antiquities
• Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
• Islamic Art
• Decorative Arts
• Prints and Drawings
By Benh LIEU SONG (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
As the second most visited museum in the world, the Louvre holds many of the most famous works of art in existence. Which pieces are the most famous is not debatable, that honor goes to the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory of Samothrace, and the Mona Lisa. Each of these masterpieces makes a visit to the Louvre imperative.The Most Famous works displayed at the Louvre
• Venus de Milo
The Venus de Milo is one of the best-known pieces of ancient Greek sculpture. The statue is the image of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, known as Venus to the Romans. A peasant on the Isle of Milos discovered the statue in 1820; historians estimate the creation of Venus between 130 and 100 B.C. and it is popular belief that Alexandros of Antioch is its sculptor. Six or seven carefully assembled individual blocks of Parian marble create the impressive work, which is approximately six and a half feet tall. Venus de Milo was a gift to King Louis XVIII in 1821; the king gifted it to the Louvre where it remains on display.
• Winged Victory of Samothrace
The awe-inspiring statue Winged Victory of Samothrace is the image of the Greek goddess Nike, called Victory by the Romans. While Victory’s creator remains unknown, the detailed piece traces its existence back to 200 B.C. The statue, discovered in 1863, on the island of Samothrace was in various stages of disrepair. Victory stands eight feet tall and is masterfully sculpted using Thasian and Parian marble, creating a blending of gray and white. The contrast helps to enhance the feeling of movement especially of the rippled garments. The consensus among artists and historians is that the Winged Victory of Samothrace is the greatest surviving masterpiece of the Greco-Roman era. The statue came to the Louvre in 1883, after twenty years of reassembling on the island of Samothrace.
• The Mona Lisa
The captivating creation of Italian master Leonardo da Vinci is the most famous painting in the world. da Vinci painted this masterpiece between 1503-1506, although it is believed that da Vinci continued refining the piece up to 1517. The subject of the painting is thought to be Lisa Gherardini, wife of Italian merchant Francesco del Giocondo. The Mona Lisa arrived in France, along with da Vinci, after King Francis I convinced the artist to relocate to France. King Francis acquired the Mona Lisa after da Vinci’s death and placed it in the Louvre, where it has been on permanent display since 1797.