The Louvre is one of the largest museums in the world, with over 35,000 pieces of art housed in a gigantic, 60,000 square foot building. Located along the banks of the Seine, the glass pyramid outside the Louvre is a memorable landmark, and an often photographed view of the museum. Descend below to enjoy the large collection of works, including Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
The history of the Louvre museum starts with Philippe-Auguste, as he built the Louvre in the late 12th century as a fortress on the edge of the city to protect Paris from Anglo-Norman invaders. The Louvre was retrofitted into a residence for Louis XIV in the 16th century, and remained a palace for several centuries, but also began to showcase the works that France had been collecting. The history of the Louvre museum took a dramatic turn in the late 18th century when the art collection took over entirely, and thus the modern Louvre was born. Different rulers build different sections as part of the palace expansion. King Henri IV built the Grande Galerie, which is over a quarter of a mile long, and at the time was the longest building in the world. Louis XIII completed the Denon Wing during his rein. Even Napoleon had a hand in the history of the Louvre museum, adding a wing in the 1850s.
A Louvre tour seeing every piece of work in the collection would take weeks. The Louvre is divided into eight collections. Visitors would be wise to pick a few collections and dedicate their time during a Louvre tour to immersing themselves in just a few collections. An obligatory stop on the Louvre tour is at the Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, also known as the Mona Lisa. It is on display (First Floor/denon/room 13), behind a glass case, roped stanchions, and a throng of museum goers. Stop by for a look, then head off to another section to become more engulfed in the works. Other famous works include the ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo, dating to around 130 B.C., and the Virgin and Child with St. Anne by da Vinc. The painting depicts St. Anne, her daughter the Virgin, and the child Jesus.
Other Paris Museums include the Musee d'Orsay, housed in a former railway station, with displays of French art nouveau, Impressionist, and Postimpressionist works. Visitors will find works by Renoir, Monet, van Gogh, and Toulouse-Lautrec. The Centre National d'Art et de Culture Georges Pompidou is home to an extensive modern art collection. The building, a fascinating piece of architecture, has all the guts on the outside, including exposed beams, water pipes, and air ducts. Inside the modern art collection spans multiple floors, and includes performances and movies. It's one of the most exciting of Paris museums. The National Museum of the Middle Ages, also known as the Musee de Cluny, contains an impressive collection of works from the middle ages. Statues, tapestries, and manuscripts make up the collection, the most famous being Dame a la Licorne (Lady and the Unicorn). In addition, the building is a fine example of medieval architecture and houses a Roman bath house dating back to around 200 AD. Those are only a sprinkling of Paris museums, in a city with some of the best art and culture in the world.
The Louvre museum is a great destination during a Paris vacation. The former palace is a historic building, with varied architecture, and one of the most expansive collections of art in the world.