The history of the Musée du Louvre, which today contains one of the most important art collections in the world, dates back to the Middle Ages. Built in 1190 as a fortress by King Philip Augustus to protect Paris from the Vikings, it was transformed into a Renaissance palace by Francesco I, who demolished the tower. Since then, for four centuries, French kings and emperors undertook to expand it. The glass pyramid of I.M. Pei was added to the courtyard of honor in 1989. All galleries can be reached from here.
The glass pyramid
The projects for the modernization and expansion of the Louvre date back to 1981. They included the transfer from the Richelieu wing to a new headquarters of the Ministry of Finance and the construction of a main entrance to the museum. The American architect of Chinese origin l.M. Pei was in charge of the project. Pei designed a pyramid that had to become a visual reference point and entrance to the museum. Its glass walls allow visitors to admire the surrounding historic buildings and to light up the entrance hall.
The Louvre collection
The Louvre treasures can be traced back to the collection of Francesco l (1515-47), who bought many Italian paintings, including "La Gioconda". During the reign of Louis XIV (1643-1715) this amounted to only 200 artwork, but it also increased as a result of donations and purchases. It was opened for the first time to the public in 1793, after the Revolution, since then the Louvre collection has been continuously enriched.
La Gioconda - Leonardo Da Vinci (1504)
The Gallery Guide
The main entrance is under the glass pyramid. The artwork are exposed on four floors: the rooms of painting and sculpture are organized by country of origin. There are eight sections: antiquities of the Near East; Egyptian antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; Islamic art; sculptures; decorative arts; paintings; prints and drawings. It is important to not underestimate the dimensions of the museum and it may therefore be useful to establish first of all the priorities among the artwork that you want to see. The European painters collection (1400-1850) is very large, with 40 percent of French works, while the collection of sculptures is less complete. The section dedicated to ancient, oriental, Islamic, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman art is renowned throughout the world and it includes an enormous amount of works. Many also the objets d'art on show, including furniture and jewelry.