What is the Louvre Museum known for?
The Louvre, pronounced Luh-wre, is a museum in France. It stands in the middle of the capital Paris on the banks of the river Seine. No museum in the world is visited as often as the Louvre: around eight million people a year.
In the Louvre you can see art and objects from history: the oldest things date back to the Stone Age. The most famous painting in the museum is the Mona Lisa.
The museum has a total of 60,000 square meters on which art is shown. That's as big as eight soccer fields. Only in New York and Saint Petersburg are there museums that are even bigger. Around 1,800 people work in the Louvre.
Where does the building come from?
In the Middle Ages there was a fortress here, a castle. With this, the French kings defended the city of Paris. As the city grew, the Louvre was no longer on the edge, but in the middle. The kings made it their place of residence. The Louvre already had a library.
After the Middle Ages, during the Renaissance, parts of the Louvre were rebuilt. This building still stands today and is one of the wings of what is now the Louvre. Another wing was built a little later, from 1564. The parts of the building now form a kind of courtyard, the Cour Carrée. However, about a hundred years later, King Louis the Fourteenth decided to live in the Palace of Versailles.
Finally, the idea of keeping the king's art treasures in the Louvre came up. In the French Revolution, Parliament adopted the idea. That is why the Louvre has been a museum since 1793, the Musée du Louvre. Artists were allowed to look around there on weekdays, and everyone was allowed in on Sundays. Today this regulation no longer applies.
In the years that followed, the museum got bigger and bigger, and they turned it into a museum as we know it today. In 1989, a glass pyramid was built in the inner courtyard: this way, a lot of light comes into the entrance hall below.
What can you see in the Louvre?
The collections in the museum have been divided into eight sections. There is a section for the oldest works of art from the Middle East. Another shows the art of Islam, another the art of ancient Egypt, and another the art of the ancient Greeks and Romans. There is also a department for painting of the west. Newer art, from around 1900, is not seen in the Louvre, but in other museums.
Best known from ancient Greece and Rome are probably these two statues: the Nike of Samothrace and the Venus of Milo. Both depict Greek goddesses. A well-known painting from the Renaissance, apart from the Mona Lisa, is, for example, “The money changer and his wife”.
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