When in Paris… Of course you must visit the Musée du Louvre (Louvre Museum), one of the most famous and largest art museums in the world; indeed in the history of art museums! It’s a fact that it is the most visited art museum in the world.
Life for the Louvre began as a royal fortress, constructed in the 12th century; it was originally home to François I and then became the sumptuous palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV. The structure was turned into a museum in 1793 with an exhibition of just 537 paintings; the museum now holds over 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 19th century, exhibited in over 60,000 m2 of art space.
Some of the most famous works of art to be found in the Louvre Museum are the Venus de Milo, Leonardo de Vinci’s Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s Dying Slave and the Winged Victory of Samothrace (artist unknown). It also houses the most impressive collection of Greek, Roman, Islamic and Egyptian antiquities.
Aside from the permanent exhibitions, the Louvre also houses temporary exhibitions from past and present day artists. Two exhibitions taking place in the Spring are definitely worth highlighting:
Egypt in stone, Egypt in Paper – 2nd March – 2nd June 2011
During the first half of the 19th century, keen traveller Prisse d’Avennes explored the shores of the Nile in earch of the Pharaonic ruins and Arab monuments. During his two visits to the country he amassed a wealth of manuscript notes and graphic works, including carved decorations, watercolours, prints and photographs.
Unlike most collectors Prisse d’Avennes left most of what he discovered behind, in its rightful place; but what he did bring home was of the highest historical importance and is currently on show in the Louvre.
Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus – 20th April – 18th July 2011
Showcasing one of the most important masterpieces in the Louvre, The Pilgrims of Emmaus, this exhibition presents the different representations of Christ by Rembrandt and his students.
The exhibition has been organised in conjunction with the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Detroit Institute and promises to highlight the innovative character of Rembrandt, the master artist from Amsterdam.
The Louvre had a revival in popularity a few years back with its part in the plot of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code; the book and subsequent film starring Tom Hanks, sparked curiosity in the museum and its works of art and their real significance.
Entry to the Louvre Museum is through the famous glass pyramid in the Cour Napoleon (Courtyard of Napoleon).
Whether you are a lover of art and culture or not, you can’t help be impressed and inspired by the magnificent and extensive collection housed at the Louvre Museum.
For further information on permanent and temporary exhibitions, and the history of the museum, visit the official website. To reach the Louvre Museum you can catch the Metro to the Palais-Royal-Musee de Louvre station, or the numbers 21, 24, 27, 39, 48, 68, 69, 72, 81, 95 and the Paris Open Tour bus all stop outside the Pyramid entrance. So there is absolutely no excuse no to make a stop off to the Louvre when you are visiting Paris.
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