The Louvre celebrates its 230th anniversary !
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It's a must-see on any visit to Paris, but did you know that the Louvre has been a museum since 1793? In the midst of the French Revolution, the old palace began to welcome artists within its walls, much to the delight of us and visitors from all over the world. This anniversary gives us the opportunity to tell you a little of its history and to share with you the events planned for this celebration.
The history of the Louvre dates back to 1190 ! Fearing invasions in a very tense Franco-English climate, King Philip-Augustus had a fortified wall built around Paris and a fortress (a keep and a square wall) to the west of the Cité. The Louvre was born. The moats of the fortifications can be seen in the Carrousel gallery. The building took on the appearance of a castle in the 14th century, under the reign of Charles V, housing flats pleasant to live in and even a library (which later became the Bibliothèque nationale de France). However, as the wars of the Middle Ages wore on, the kings and nobles deserted Paris for the Loire Valley... The château came back to life in the 16th century under Francis I, who rebuilt it, and Catherine de Médicis, who commissioned the construction of the Palais des Tuileries. The castle was then renovated and modernised until the reign of Louis XIV, who eventually had the Château de Versailles built, and abandonned it once again. By then, the crown's collections were already quite extensive !
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It was at this time that the Louvre was taken over by nobles and artists alike. Louis XVI finally appreciated their idea of creating a museum, and the Grande Galerie finally opened its doors in 1793, precipitated by the events of the French Revolution. With and after Napoleon Bonaparte, who took up residence in the Tuileries Palace, the museum grew and eventually reached its current size and shape under the Second Empire, with the two buildings constructed around Place Napoléon, which today houses the Louvre Pyramid, inaugurated - after gigantic renovation work - by President François Mitterand in 1989.
Over the centuries, the museum's collections have grown and diversified (through wars, military successes and confiscations too!), making it the largest museum in the world by the 1980s ! You can now admire over 460,000 works, divided into eight collections: Egyptian antiquities, Oriental antiquities, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities, Islamic arts, sculpture, decorative arts, paintings, prints and drawings.
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The museum's 230th anniversary is therefore an opportunity to celebrate art in all its forms! Books, podcasts, research seminars, meetings, debates, visits, speeches by members of the Louvre's teams and members of major national and international museums, etc... will all be taking place from the end of 2023. In keeping with its past as an artists' studio, the museum has also invited contemporary artists Kader Attia and Elizabeth Peyton to set up their studios in the museum until 2025. Other artists will also be leading tours of the museum every Saturday at 11am, until the 9th of December, giving you the chance to discover the works from a different angle.
Find out about all the events planned for this anniversary on the official website of the Musée du Louvre.
Cover picture redcharlie / Unsplash