35 Intriguing Facts About The Louvre In Paris

Interesting facts about the Louvre museum in Paris, France

Spanning centuries, this iconic museum also has a fascinating history of its own. In this article, we explore some intriguing facts about the Louvre.

The Louvre, located in the heart of Paris, France, is one of the most renowned and visited museums in the world. Housing an exceptional collection of art and historical artifacts, the Louvre brilliantly displays the rich cultural heritage of humanity.

1. The Louvre, also referred to as the Louvre Museum, is a hugely popular national art museum at the heart of Paris. It can be found on the banks of the River Seine in the city’s administrative district.

2. The Louvre’s history dates back to the 12th century when it was originally constructed as a fortress to defend the city of Paris under King Philippe Auguste. As a medieval fortress, the Louvre featured a moat and a 98-foot (29.8 meter) tall keep.

A crying statue in front of a corner of the exterior of the Louvre museum building
There is much history behind the Louvre

3. In the 16th century, King Francis I transformed the Louvre into a Renaissance-style palace, expanding its grandeur and using it to display his art collection. The Louvre served as a royal residence until 1682.

4. The Louvre officially became a public museum during the French Revolution in 1793. At this time, the museum displayed an initial collection of 537 paintings.

5. Napoleon Bonaparte played a significant role in expanding the museum’s collection during his reign. He acquired numerous valuable pieces from across Europe and beyond.

6. What many people don’t know is that Napoleon’s Louvre residence can still be found at the museum. Furnished in the same style, visitors can still walk through the apartments now.

7. The name “Louvre” is believed to have originated from the French word “louvre,” which refers to the structure’s distinctively shaped roof, with slanting, ventilating openings. However, it’s also argued that the name Louvre comes from the Latin word Lupara, which means wolf. This may be due to the presence of wolves in the area (in the past, that is – don’t expect to see any today!)

Glass pyramid in front of museum building at the Louvre, with a couple visitors walking around
The Louvre’s iconic glass pyramid

8. The Louvre is adorned with an iconic glass pyramid at its main entrance. Designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei, it was completed in 1989. The dimensions of the glass pyramid are identical to those of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Cairo, Egypt. Its unique structure consists of 673 diamond-shaped glass panes, and its height is precisely equal to the pyramid’s base length. I.M. Pei has also designed famous buildings in New York City, Washington D.C., Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Germany, and more.

9. The Louvre holds the title of the world’s largest art museum, covering an astonishing area of over 782,910 square feet (72,734 square meters). That makes the Louvre 63,430 square feet (5,892 square meters) bigger than the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, which is the second-largest art museum in the world.

10. The museum’s collection comprises over 480,000 works. This includes 35,000 pieces of art ranging from ancient civilizations to the 21st century. The museum is split into eight departments, with over 645,834 square feet (60,000 square meters) being dedicated to the permanent collection.

11. The total value of the Louvre’s collection is believed to sit somewhere in the region of $35 billion. The Mona Lisa alone is worth approximately $100 million. Meanwhile, the museum itself is thought to be worth upwards of $10 billion. As a side note: Elon Musk could buy the entire museum and all its artwork, only spending 15% of his total wealth.

12. The museum has an extensive underground section, which houses the Islamic Art collection. This area also provides a unique perspective on the evolution of the Louvre’s architecture.

A statue of a winged goddess with no head and crowds of people around it inside the Louvre museum
Winged Victoru of Samothrace, one of many famous statues in the museum

13. The Louvre has its art conservation center. Here, experts work tirelessly to restore and preserve priceless artworks for future generations.

14. In a unique cultural partnership, the Louvre Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates was established, featuring rotating exhibits from the original Louvre’s extensive collection.

15. The Louvre Museum is so popular that the number of visitors is now capped at 30,000 a day. As a result, more than 7.5 million people visit the museum annually (that’s almost four times the current population of Paris).

16. Before the cap on visitors, the Louvre would regularly experience record-breaking days. On certain occasions, the Louvre has welcomed more than 50,000 visitors in a single day.

17. The Louvre’s biggest attraction is Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting, the Mona Lisa. Other famous works in the museum include Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace.

A group of tourists trying to take a picture of the Mona Lisa painting in the Louvre
Tourists crowd around the famous Mona Lisa

18. Another fascinating piece is the Sphinx of Tanis, an ancient Egyptian statue with a mysterious history. The statue was first discovered around 3000 years ago inside the ruins of an even older temple.

19. As part of promotional campaigns or special events, the Louvre has occasionally offered the chance for visitors to spend the night inside the museum.

20. Much less common to be pictured than the famous pyramid, the Louvre has a large Ferris wheel in front of it, the Grande Roue de Paris. The 60-meter (200-ft) wheel can be transported and sometimes visits other cities in the world. It takes 72 hours to take down and 60 hours to set up again.

21. There are several gardens and parks around the Louvre, including Tuileries Garden and Palais-Royal Garden. The former was established by Catherine de’ Medici in 1564 and became a public park in 1667.

22. The Louvre even has a shopping mall. Found under the museum, Carrousel du Louvre is a hidden shopping mall that offers a range of shops and restaurants. Shops found within the shopping mall include L’Occitane en Provence and Fossil. The first Apple store in France, as well as one of the more controversial McDonalds, can be found there.

A large Ferris wheel beside the Louvre museum with some people walking in a garden below
Tuileries Garden and Grande Roue de Paris

23. Embracing technology, the Louvre offers virtual tours for those unable to visit physically. This innovative approach allows art enthusiasts to explore the museum’s collections from the comfort of their homes. The entire Louvre collection can be observed online here.

24. In 1911, Vincenzo Peruggia successfully stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. The painting was missing for two years until Peruggia decided to take it to an Italian gallery. Unsurprisingly, he was arrested and the painting was returned to the Louvre.

25. In 2008, a daring art heist attempt took place in the Louvre. A would-be thief attempted to steal the “Venus de Milo” but was quickly apprehended by museum security.

26. In 2019, the museum experienced a temporary blackout, forcing the closure of several galleries. Despite this, some visitors found the opportunity to explore sections of the museum by flashlight.

27. The Louvre has a unique access tunnel, known as the “red carpet”, which allows dignitaries and VIPs to enter the museum discreetly, away from the public eye.

Some people walking between large columns at the Louvre, with part of the glass pyramid visible through the arch at the end.
Visitors at the Louvre

28. Royalty, politicians, movie stars, and musicians have all visited the Louvre. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited the Louvre on several occasions during her official visits to France.

29. The power couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z filmed their music video for “Apesh*t” in the Louvre in 2018, showcasing the museum’s art collection in a visually stunning production.

30. The former President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle Obama, toured the Louvre during their diplomatic visits to France. 

31. Hollywood superstar Tom Hanks explored the Louvre while filming scenes for the movie “The Da Vinci Code” (2006). 

32. The Louvre’s Inverted Pyramid played an important role in the book on which the movie was based. It serves as a skylight in the underground Carrousel du Louvre Mall.

Close up of the tip of a downward facing glass pyramid as it almost touches the top of a smaller pyramid, with a girl standing beside it
The bottom tip of the Inverted Pyramid

33. The famous singer Rihanna has visited the Louvre too. She shot a photo spread for a popular fashion magazine within its walls.

34. The Louvre has also been featured in a variety of movies. These include “Rush Hour 3” (2007), “Babylon A.D.” (2008), “Wonder Woman” (2017), and “Red Notice” (2021).

35. A wide range of popular television shows have been filmed at the Louvre Museum too. Some of the most popular include Doctor Who (Season 6, Ep 10 – “The Girl Who Waited), The Amazing Race (Season 23, Ep 5), The Bachelorette (Season 15, Ep 5), and Gossip Girl (Season 4, Ep 18).

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