Le Louvre Paris: Discover the most-visited museum in the world
It is said that if you go to Paris and don’t visit the Louvre, you haven’t visited Paris. This is fairly true, as the grandeur of Le Louvre Paris is hard to miss. This iconic museum stands on the right bank of the River Seine and is the largest art gallery in the world. Louvre Museum houses the heritage of the great French history, along with other important works from around the world. The museum is home to more than 35,000 exhibits in its centuries-old building, which attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year. The art gallery displays one of the world’s greatest treasures, Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, among other great works of art by French artists and others from around the world.
- Also Known As: Musée du Louvre or Great Louvre.
- Location: Louvre Museum is located at Rue de Rivoli, 75001 Paris, France. Get directions.
- Opening: Louvre Museum opened to the public on 10 August 1793.
- Operational Hours: The Louvre Museum is open for visit Wednesday to Monday, 9 AM to 6 PM. Learn more about Louvre timings.
- Entrances: The Louvre has four entrances: I.M. Pei Pyramid, Carrousel du Louvre, Passage Richelieu, and Porte des Lions. Currently, only I.M. Pei Pyramid and Passage Richelieu are open. Learn more about Louvre entrances.
- Number of visitors per year: Approximately 10 million. Everything you need to plan your visit to the Louvre.
History of Louvre
The building, which stands as Louvre Museum today, was originally a royal palace. King Francis I established the Louvre Palace in the year 1546 on the site of a 12th-century fortress built by King Philip II. King Francis I was an art enthusiast and a collector of artworks and artifacts; and so, he dedicated one section of the palace to his collection of the same. The section was extended by every subsequent monarch who moved into the palace. Louis XIV is known to have added a major chunk of the collection in the 17th century, including art collections of Charles I of England after his execution in the English Civil War. Louis XV began small exhibitions of the art collection in the year 1750; however, in 1789, the palace was turned into a permanent art museum. The years which followed saw the collection of Louvre artworks grow leaps and bounds as the French army seized art and archaeological collections throughout the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. In the year 1857, two new wings were added, and the museum complex was established during the reign of Napoleon III.
Louvre Museum Collection
The massive collection of the world’s largest art gallery consists of over 35,000 artworks and it spans across eight thematic departments. The vast collections include artworks and artifacts dating back centuries, representing almost 11,000 years of human history and culture. The museum’s permanent collection consists of great works of art by maestros like Leonardo Da Vinci, Delacroix, Rubens, and Vermeer, among others. It also houses Egyptian, Islamic, and Greco-Roman collections of art. The eight thematic departments of the Louvre are:
- The Louvre’s painting collection: The most popular section in Louvre Museum Paris, the painting department exhibits more than 7000 works of art. The iconic Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is one of them, and it attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to this section of the museum. The department is further divided into schools of work based on regions such as French, Italian, German, Flemish, English, Dutch, and Scandinavian.
- The Egyptian antiquities of the Louvre Museum: The Egyptian collection of the Louvre is considered to be one of the most extensive in the world. It deep dives into the lives of the ancient Egyptians from all classes and backgrounds.
- Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities: The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities department of the Louvre is about all things history. It houses and exhibits a rich collection of art and artifacts depicting the cultural history and heritage of the region. A large part of the collection was inducted by the French royalty in the 16th century.
- Near Eastern Antiquities: This department is massive with 25 rooms dedicated to the exhibition art and artifacts from North Africa to the Indus river spanning over 6 millennia. It is one of the most important sections in the museum as it sheds light on how cultural transformation took place in the regions.
- Sculpture at the Louvre Museum: The department for Sculpture at the Louvre Paris is rich with works of both French artists and sculptors from other countries and regions. It is also the largest collection of French sculptures in the world. Some of the notable works are Satan by Jean-Jacques Feuchère and Diana the Huntress by Jean-Antoine Houdon, among others.
- Decorative arts at the Louvre: The department of Decorative Arts at the Louvre consists of artifacts and works of all kinds like tapestry, goldsmithery, ceramics, stained glass, and more. One of the famous objects exhibited in this department is the Equestrian statuette of Charlemagne by Alexandre Lenoir.
- Islamic Arts: The department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre is the newest section of the two hundred plus-year-old museum. It was founded in the year 2003 and the exhibitions are installed at the Visconti courtyard. One of the popular works exhibited in this section is the Plate with Peacock which originated in Turkey and is estimated to be about 450 years old.
- The Louvre’s collection of Graphic Arts: It is the largest collection of drawings in the world with 1,40,000 pieces in the Louvre’s catalog. It is the least known part of the museum as most of the works cannot be displayed due to the fragility of the drawings.
What to see
Here are some famous works visitors must see at the Louvre, among others.
Painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the 16th century, this is considered one of the greatest works in the history of world art. Famous for the enigmatic smile and the positioning of the eyes, this painting has been the main highlight of the museum for nearly two centuries.
One of the most iconic works by Eugène Delacroix, the painting was transferred to the Louvre Museum in 1874. The painting shows a woman personifying Liberty with a French flag in one hand and a bayoneted musket in the other.
The iconic sculpture was discovered in 1820 on the Greek island of Milos, in the Cyclades Archipelago. The sculpture, however, was not found in its original form, as it took a trial of time on the island and lost its arms.
Made in Ancient Greece, the sculpture depicts Nike, the goddess of victory. The marble statue is about 8 feet high, and is one of the most celebrated works in the Western world. It is believed that it commemorates a victory, most likely, a naval victory.
The Great Sphinx of Tanis is dated to 26 century BC, and is one of the largest sphinx outside of Egypt. Made of granite, this sculpture is impressively detailed, making it one of the highlights of the Egyptian Antiquities section at the Louvre Paris.
The Galerie d’Apollon houses the French Crown Jewels at the Louvre. It is famous for its high vaulted ceilings with stunning artwork on the ceiling. One of the oldest parts of the museum, today, it is considered a heritage site.
There are many themed visitor trails based that you can follow to discover Louvre artworks of your interest, such as:
- Masterpieces of the Louvre, Denon Wing: This trail covers major works from the Italian Renaissance. Some of the works you will see include The Raft of the Medusa by Théodore Géricault, Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, and Portrait of Baldassare Castiglione, Writer and Diplomat (1478–1529) by Raffaello Santi (Raphael).
- JAY-Z and Beyoncé at the Louvre: This trail covers the artworks from JAY-Z and Beyoncé’s music video, “APES**T”, which was shot at the Louvre. Some of the works covered include The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Caliari (Veronese), The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David, and Portrait of a Black Woman by Marie-Guillemine Benoist.
- Daily Life in Egypt, In the Time of the Pharaohs: This trail will show you what life was like in Ancient Egypt. Some artifacts you will see include Model of a boat, Chapel of the tomb of Akhethotep, Fragment of the Book of the Dead on papyrus, and Game board in the form of a hippopotamus, among others.
- All visitors must book a ticket or free time-slot online before visiting as per the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
- Those aged 11 and above must wear a mask within the Louvre complex. Please ensure you carry one along with you.
- Hydro-alcoholic gel dispensers are placed at the entrance of the museum for visitors to use and sanitize hands.
- Social distancing protocols must be followed at all times within the venue.
- The evening is the best time to visit the museum with a lesser number of people which gives you more space and peace to experience the museum.
- Children under 18 years of age; residents of the European Economic area, teachers of art can visit the museum free of cost.
- Avoid carrying large bags, suitcases, or umbrellas to the museum as you won’t be allowed to take them inside.
- Please make sure you have a considerable amount of time for the visit as the museum is vast and it takes a lot of time to see the exhibits in different sections.
- See the Mona Lisa, Venus De Milo, and the Winged Victory statue early so that you don’t miss these major attractions.
- Opting for an audio guide is recommended if you are not confident to read French as all the signs and descriptions in the museum are in French. Please note that the audio guides provided to visitors are disinfected before and after each use to ensure a safe experience.
- Wear comfortable clothing and most importantly, the right shoes as you might have to walk a lot throughout the day in the museum.
- If you are worried about snacking in between, there are plenty of eateries inside the museum complex.
Le Louvre Paris: Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. In fact, due to COVID-19 regulations, you actually need to purchase your tickets in advance, meaning online Louvre Museum tickets are your best bet.
Yes, Louvre Paris has a cloakroom. However, due to COVID-19 regulations, the cloakroom has been shut until further notice.
No, helmets, suitcases, large bags, and umbrellas will not be allowed inside the building.
The bookstore and the catering services in the museum will stay open on all operational days of the museum.
Yes, one can rent strollers or wheelchairs at the entrance.
Yes, children under 18 years of age can visit the museum free of cost.
Note: As per COVID-19 safety regulations, it is mandatory to book time-stamped tickets online for free entry.
As per COVID-19 safety guidelines, wearing a mask is mandatory for all visitors aged 11 years and above in the museum and the gardens.
The best time to visit the Louvre is Wednesday and Friday evenings when the museum is open until 9.45 PM, and the crowd is comparatively less.
The museum has a vast collection, and to see everything you might need to plan your visit for multiple days. However, if you want to make the best of your first visit, plan ahead and go for the exhibits you want to see the most.