A trip to the Louvre — the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument as well — is a bucket-list destination for any art lover. Now, thanks to a new initiative, anyone can see the museum’s artwork — without making a trip to Paris, France.
Officials at the Louvre announced in a statement last week that the museum has digitized its entire collection — all 480,000 artworks. They can now be seen online, for free.
“The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musee du Louvre, said in a statement, CNN reports. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan (even long-term), or in storage.”
The World’s Largest Art Museum
The museum — on the banks of the Seine River in Paris — is housed in what was originally built as the Louvre castle in the 12th century. As you would expect, it’s enormous.
Indeed, the Louvre, which is home to such masterpieces as the Mona Lisa, is about two miles long and has 35,000 artworks on display. To put that size in perspective, a tour guide explained that it would take approximately 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the museum — and that’s if you only spent 30 seconds looking at each piece of art, a Conde Nast Traveler article reports.
The Online Catalog
The database for the Louvre’s collections includes entries for more than 480,000 works of art from the museum’s eight curatorial departments. Those departments are Near Eastern Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Paintings; Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern Sculpture; Prints and Drawings; and Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern Decorative Arts.
The museum’s collections database also includes albums of MNR works — Musees Nationaux Recuperation or National Museums Recovery — which are the works recovered after World War II and are pending return to their legitimate owners. In addition, the collection also includes works on loan from other French museums and international sites, such as the British Museum and the archaeological museum of Heraklion (located in Crete).
What’s Cool About The Experience
The Louvre explains that its collections site includes a number of research tools that can filter search results according to date of creation, collection the work belongs to, and artist/maker. There’s even an interactive map to find works on display in the museum so you can “virtually” explore the museum room by room and discover new artworks on your own.
“It helps you see things you might not otherwise; it helps you find surprises,” Suse Anderson, a professor of Museum Studies at George Washington University, says in an NPR article. “That’s where I think you often get the connection to your own life. It’s when you find something that resonates, but isn’t the thing you went looking for.”
Know Before You Go
Officials at the Louvre realize that viewing artwork online doesn’t, and can’t, replace the experience of seeing artwork in person. It is their hope that seeing the work online, however, spurs interest in actually visiting the museum. In the meantime, the online collection can be seen here.
The Louvre is currently closed due to restrictions put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. When the museum does reopen, more information about its status will be available here. For more inspiration, consider