The Louvre Museum (in French, Musée du Louvre) is not only the largest art museum in the world but also a consecrated monument in Paris, France. In addition, it’s the most visited museum in the world, with close to 10 million visitors per year!
The building is located in the 1er arrondissement, the most central part of the French capital. Thus, in an astronomical area of almost 73,000 m², the Louvre Museum permanently displays more than 35,000 works of art, in a collection that totals approximately 380,000 artifacts.
In this complete guide, you’ll be able to find must-see works of art, information regarding opening hours and ticket prices, as well as the best tips and suggestions about the Louvre Museum!
So, do you want to know more about the Louvre Museum: Best Tips For Visiting In 2023? Keep reading!
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- Brief History of the Louvre Museum
- What to See at the Louvre Museum
- “Grand Sphinx de Tanis” (Ground Floor, Sully Wing, Room 338)
- “Vénus de Milo” (Ground Floor, Sully Wing, Room 346)
- “Amore e Psiche”, by Antonio Canova (Ground Floor, Richelieu Wing, Room 403)
- “La Victoire de Samothrace” (First Floor, Denon Wing, Daru Staircase)
- “Mona Lisa”, by Leonardo da Vinci (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 711)
- “Nozze di Cana”, by Paolo Veronese (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 711)
- “La Liberté guidant le peuple”, by Eugène Delacroix (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 77)
- Practical Guide to the Louvre Museum
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Brief History of the Louvre Museum
The Louvre Palace (in French, Palais du Louvre), was originally built as a fortress, between the 12th and 13th centuries, under the reign of Philip II. However, with the urban expansion of the city, the fortress ended up losing its defensive function.
Therefore, at the behest of Francis I, it was transformed into the main residence of the French kings, already in the 16th century. In 1682, King Louis XIV decided to move permanently to the Palace of Versailles. Meanwhile, the Louvre Palace started to serve as an exhibition site for his royal collection.
During the French Revolution (1789-1799), the Louvre Palace was eventually converted into a national museum and officially opened to the public on August 10th, 1793. Currently, the building consists of five floors and three wings, honoring three prominent figures of French history: Denon, Sully, and Richelieu.
What to See at the Louvre Museum
Nowadays, the gigantic cultural and historical collection of the Louvre Museum is divided into eight departments and art collections:
- Egyptian Antiquities – which shows traces of civilizations from the end of the prehistory (ca. 4000 BC) to the Christian times (4th century AC)
- Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities – gathering works of these important civilizations, from Neolithic times (4000 BC) until the 6th century AC
- Near Eastern Antiquities – with a history of 9000 years, from prehistory to the beginning of the Islamic era
- Islamic Art – which has almost 3000 works on display, with more than 1000 years of history and in a territory that spans three continents
- Sculptures – preserving examples from the Middle Ages and Renaissance, namely the world’s largest collection of French sculptures
- Paintings – with works representative of all European schools, from the 13th century till 1848
- Decorative Arts – which holds a unique set of objects in the world, from the High Middle Ages to the 19th century, such as jewelry, bronzes, ceramics, jewelry, glassware, furniture, tapestries, etc.
- Prints and Drawings – housing the world’s largest collection of drawings, prints, pastels, watercolors, and manuscripts, which are exposed on a rotating basis due to their sensitivity to light
So, amid tens of thousands of works waiting to be enjoyed, I will help you find some must-see works of art in the Louvre Museum!
“Grand Sphinx de Tanis” (Ground Floor, Sully Wing, Room 338)
The “Great Sphinx of Tanis” represents a fantastic creature from Egyptian and Greek mythologies, with the head of a Pharaoh and the body of a lion. It is certainly one of the largest and best-preserved sphinxes outside of Egypt.
Exactly in Ancient Egypt, the sphinxes could have the head of a hawk, cat, or sheep, although the most common ones were human, usually from a Pharaoh. Moreover, these mythical creatures were often found at the entrance to royal tombs or religious temples.
The “Great Sphinx of Tanis” was found in 1825, in the ruins of the temple of Amon-Ra, in Tanis, the capital of the XXI and XXII Egyptian dynasties. If, on the one hand, Greek mythology represented the sphinx as a woman, on the other hand, that of Ancient Egypt was almost always a man.
This monumental work in granite is part of the department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum!
“Vénus de Milo” (Ground Floor, Sully Wing, Room 346)
The most famous sculpture of Aphrodite in the world, nicknamed “Vénus de Milo”, dates roughly from 100 BC. Nonetheless, it was only discovered in 1820, on the Greek island of Milos, belonging to the Cyclades archipelago.
This representation of the Greek goddess of love is thought to have been created by Alexander of Antioch, although its authorship was attributed to Praxiteles – the famous sculptor of Ancient Greece – for more than a century!
Even so, the museum does not reference its author on the descriptive plaque. With an impressive height of 202 cm, the masterpiece of the Hellenistic period incorporates the department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities of the Louvre Museum.
“Amore e Psiche”, by Antonio Canova (Ground Floor, Richelieu Wing, Room 403)
“Love and Psyche” is a sculpture created by Italian artist Antonio Canova and commissioned by the Welsh art collector, Colonel John Campbell. Surprisingly, there are two versions of this mythological novel by the same author: the first work was sculpted between 1787 and 1793, while the second statue dates from 1794 to 1799 and is in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Also known as “Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss” (from the French title, “Psyché ranimée par le baiser de l’Amour”), the work represents the winged god Cupid when he awakens his beloved mortal Psyche with a “true love’s kiss”.
This masterpiece of neoclassical sculpture was sculpted in marble and entered the collection of the Louvre Museum in 1824, integrating the Sculpture collection. In my opinion, you should “waste” time admiring “Love and Psyche”, all around and from all angles, because it’s worth it.
“La Victoire de Samothrace” (First Floor, Denon Wing, Daru Staircase)
The “Victory of Samothrace” (or “Winged Victory of Samothrace”) was part of a sanctuary built on the Greek island of Samothrace, in the northern Aegean sea. Although it existed since the beginning of the 2nd century BC, the monument was only found in 1863.
The 244 cm artwork is a tribute to the Greek mythology goddess Nice (or Nike), who personified victory and was constantly represented by a winged woman in Ancient Greece. Its Roman equivalent has the exact name of Victory.
Carved in the famous Paros marble, it’s another masterpiece from the Hellenistic period that belongs to the Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities of the Louvre Museum. For this reason, it stands out at the top of the Daru Staircase.
“Mona Lisa”, by Leonardo da Vinci (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 711)
This oil painting on poplar wood was started around 1503. Leonardo da Vinci is thought to be creating the portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine Francesco del Giocondo, hence the nickname La Gioconda or La Joconde.
These days, it’s undoubtedly the most well-known, visited, admired, and valuable painting in the world – with an insurance valuation worthy of a Guinness World Record – after having achieved worldwide fame with its theft in 1911.
In short, the Italian masterpiece is the protagonist of the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum. Behind the bulletproof glass, it’s believed that around 80% of people visit the Louvre just to see the “Mona Lisa”!
After renovations, cleaning, and consecutive works at the Salle des États, (or Room 711), the compartment has been presented since late 2019 in dark blue tones, with a zigzag line for its main attraction, which allows you to contemplate the “Mona Lisa” more intimately and with less waiting time.
“Nozze di Cana”, by Paolo Veronese (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 711)
The largest painting on display at the Louvre Museum belongs to the Italian artist Paolo Veronese and is displayed in front of the “small” “Mona Lisa”, in the Salle des États. Executed in a mannerist style from the end of the Renaissance, Veronese recreated the stylistic ideal in the image of Leonardo da Vinci, Raffaello Sanzio, or Michelangelo Buonarotti.
Almost 10 meters long and 7 meters wide, the oil painting was completed in 1563 and depicts the biblical wedding scene at Cana, where Jesus Christ performed his first miracle by turning water into wine.
“Wedding at Cana” adorned a Benedictine monastery on the Venetian island of San Giorgio Maggiore, but the painting was stolen by the Napoleonic troops in 1797 and was taken to Paris. Today, it’s part of the Paintings Department of the Louvre Museum.
“La Liberté guidant le peuple”, by Eugène Delacroix (First Floor, Denon Wing, Room 77)
“Liberty Leading the People” is certainly Eugène Delacroix‘s best-known work. The painting commemorates the July Revolution of 1830 in Paris, which was unleashed by liberal Republicans and culminated in the fall of King Charles X.
In the image, a woman – personifying Liberty with her Phrygian cap – guides the people over a kind of “barricade” made with the bodies of the defeated, while holding the tricolor flag of the French Revolution in one hand and a musket in the other.
This painting from the fall of 1830 became one of the most iconic in the 19th century and has established Eugène Delacroix as the ultimate representative of Romanticism in French painting. It is now part of the Paintings collection at the Louvre Museum.
Practical Guide to the Louvre Museum
Visiting the Louvre Museum is on the plans of many people who travel to Paris. Nevertheless, due to the size of the building and the number of artworks, it’s important to think of a strategy, to be able to enjoy the works of art in the best possible way.
TIP: Don’t try to see everything on a first visit, otherwise, you’ll have an experience that is at least frustrating and boring!
In my opinion, you can focus, for example, on a set of collections or themes, or even on a wing or floor. Along the way, let yourself stroll around the museum, stopping to admire the works that catch your attention.
Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to visit the Louvre Museum on three different occasions (2017, 2018, and 2019), taking advantage of being young and having free admission. For that reason, I want to leave you with three recommendations based on my personal experience, which will help you make the most of this magnificent monument.
1. Buy the Ticket in Advance
One of the most important tips when visiting the Louvre Museum is to buy the ticket well in advance. The quickest and easiest option is to purchase it through the online ticket office, but keep in mind that you must select the date and time of your visit at the time of booking.
Nowadays, the ticket for permanent collections costs €17 online and €15 inside the museum. The good news is that admission is free for all minors under 18 and young people under 26, residing in the European Economic Area. In that case, simply present an identification document at the entrance, after passing the security checkpoint.
2. Forget the Main Entrance
The Louvre Pyramid (in French, Pyramide du Louvre) is a glass and metal structure, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard of the Louvre Palace. Completed in 1989, it has become a reference for the French capital, in addition to being the main entrance to the museum.
To get to the Louvre Museum, the simplest and most convenient alternative is the subway, with two stations available on site: Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (lines 1 and 7) and Louvre-Rivoli (line 1).
If you choose the first subway station, there is a direct entrance to an underground shopping center – the Carrousel du Louvre – that will take you to the famous Inverted Pyramid (in French, Pyramide Inversée). Here, the waiting lines for security are busy, but still much smaller than the surface!
However, what many people don’t know is that there is a third entrance, more hidden and isolated, near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel. This secret entrance is called Porte des Lions and is located in the middle of the Jardin du Carrousel.
3. Choose the Right Time
The Louvre Museum is open every day (except Tuesdays), from 9 am to 6 pm. On Wednesdays and Fridays, the schedule extends until 9:45 pm. The museum is closed on holidays of January 1st, May 1st, and December 25th.
If you need it, all this information can be consulted (and confirmed) on the official website of the Louvre Museum. In my view, it’s crucial to avoid the busiest hours – from 11 am to 4 pm – because the queues can be unbelievable!