November 8, 2012 - Anniversary of the Louvre Opening

– 1793
It started as a royal palace.

King Francis I of France was an art collector, and he wanted a palace worthy of his wonderful collection. He had a very grand palace built in Paris.

Every French king after him expanded the palace or its grounds—and many expanded the art collection as well. Louis XIV, especially, acquired a lot more art, including the entire collection of Charles I of England after that king was executed by rebellious forces. Louis XIV called himself the Sun King and thought he was chosen by God to be the absolute monarch of France, and he wanted an even larger, even grander palace than the Louvre. So Louis XIV had the lavish Palace of Versailles built outside of Paris, and he moved his court there. The Louvre was at that point largely empty of people (although pretty full of art!).

Near the end of the 1700s, the king of France was Louis XIV's great-great-great grandson Louis XVI. This is the king who ended up losing his head during the French Revolution. Soon, on this date in 1793, France's revolutionary government opened the Louvre as a public museum of art.

is one of
the most
statues in
the Louvre.
Check out today's Louvre with this video

The Mona Lisa is one of the
museum's most famous exhibits.
(Of course, this video is just a quick look at the Louvre. As a matter of fact, I spent HOURS in the Louvre, when I visited it, but all I got was a quick look. You could visit the Louvre every day for a week and still not have much time to look at each exhibit, the museum is so huge and its displays are so numerous!)

The museum itself is an exhibit!

When I went to the Louvre, I found the building itself to be amazing. The grand staircases, cavernous galleries, and varied display areas are truly wondrous to behold and are as worthy of attention, to my mind, as the art on exhibit.

Another fascinating thing you can enjoy when you visit the Louvre is the display of remnants of the original building on the site, King Philip Augustus's fortress. These archeological findings were discovered when construction began on an underground entrance to the Louvre—which is under the famous glass pyramid—in 1983. In addition to the original foundation, archeologists discovered the usual assortment of pottery, clothing, baskets, coins, and even a bird-shaped whistle. Lots of bones from cooking scraps were found, as well, including one cooking pot with the bones of a pigeon still inside, and archeologists found pieces of a ceremonial helmet made of bronze and gilded with gold.

Also on this date:


  1. Thanks to Stephanie Schiffman Marushia for this posting this cool online tour of the Louvre:

  2. Louis XVI was executed during the French Revolution, not Louis XV.

    1. Oops! That's a pretty big mistake for me to make, and I am therefore really, really grateful to you for pointing it out, Jen. L.!

      I made the "fix" on the post because I don't want anyone else to be misled by my slip-up.

      Thanks again!