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One of the largest and most visited museums in the world, and possibly the most famous of them all, the Louvre is one of Paris's many must-visits.

Situated in the 1st arrondissement, in the heart of Paris, this palace is both from an architectural point of view as from an arts perspective one of the must see sights in Paris. It displays about 35,000 works of art, among them some world-famous like the Mona Lisa from Leonardo da Vinci, Venus de Milo and Winged Victory. The first time the immense collection was displayed was in 1789, during the revolution when the Revolutionary Committee decided to open the King's arts collection to the public.

The short history of the Museum

The library of Charles V - installed in one of the towers of the original fortress of Philippe August - was eventually dispersed. François I began a new collection of art with 12 paintings from Italy. These included works by Titian, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous being the Joconde - or Mona Lisa. The royal collection grew and by the reign of Louis XIII, numbered roughly 200 pieces. Henri II, and Catherine de Médicis continued to enlarge the collection, as did others. When Louis XIV died in 1715, there were 2,500 pieces of art and objects.
Until the Revolution, this collection was strictly for the private pleasure of the Court. Finally, the idea of a museum (originating with Louis XVI) was realized on 10 August 1793, when the Musée de la République opened to the public.
Napoléon greatly increased the collections by exacting tribute from the countries he conquored, but most of these were returned in 1815 after his defeat at Waterloo. Under Louis XVIII the Venus de Milo was aquired (for 6000F) shortly after it was rediscovered on the Island of Melos in 1820.
In 1848 the museum became the property of the State. With an annual budget devoted to aquiring new art, the collections continued to grow. Private donations also augmented the Museum's holdings.
In 1947 the impressionist paintings were moved to the Jeu de Paume and l'Orangerie. (In 1986 these were transfered to the Musée d'Orsay.)
Today, the catalogue lists nearly 300,000 works, only a fraction of which are on display at any one time. Le Grand Louvre - begun in 1981 is transforming the museum once again enlarging it substantially. The Richelieu Wing - which had ``temporarily'' housed part of the Ministry of Finance since the 18th century - was opened in 1993.

The Glass Pyramid

The latest addition to the Louvre was the glass pyramid entrance, one of the finest examples of a combination of modern and historic architecture.
On request of the late French President Mitterrand, it was designed by the renowned American architect I.M. Pei. The glass pyramid allows the sunlight to come in on the underground floor. It has received mixed reviews, as it contrasts sharply with the design of the surrounding buildings.
(Source: Paris.org & Guidecities)

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Additional Photos by George Rumpler (Budapestman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 8900 W: 3 N: 20435] (82620)
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