History• The origin of the name "Louvre” is not known but it may be possible that it comes from the French word “l’œuvre” which means masterpiece.• The museum is in Paris, France inside the Louvre Palace. This palace was first built as a fortress by Philip II in the 12th century. Afterwards, it became the home for King Charles V and King Francis I. They both renovated it to suit their favorite styles of architecture. It is Francis I who got the Mona Lisa, which would become one of the most important pieces in the museum.• However, Louis XIV decided to move to Versailles and the Louvre became a residence for artists.
History, cont.• By the 18th century, the French people wanted access to the Royal Collection of art. During the French Revolution, the Louvre finally became a public museum. It opened on August 10th 1793, exactly a year after the monarchy was taken down.• In the beginning, people could only visit the museum 3 days a week but it was the first truly public museum. It started out with 537 paintings and 184 pieces of art that came from across Europe.• In the years that followed, many more pieces were added from all over the world. Some were donated or given as gifts while others were acquired through military campaigns. Napoleon I added a lot to the collections from Egypt, Spain, Austria and Italy.
Present Form• In 1983, President Francois Mitterrand selected the architect, I. M. Pei, to design the new building for the museum. He designed the structure of a glass pyramid to cover the entrance and it was finished in 1988.• The Inverted Pyramid, a skylight in the shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum, was completed in 1993. It is copies the form of the Louvre’s glass pyramid, but turned upside down.
Collections• The Louvre has more than 380,000 objects on display from a wide range of cultures, like Egyptian, Greek, Byzantine and French.• Most possibly the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa has been on display in the Louvre since its opening. It was painted by the great Italian artist, Leonardo da Vinci, around 1519.• The painting was stolen in 1911 and Pablo Picasso was one of the suspects in the investigation. However, 2 years later the painting was found in Florence where an Italian man had kept it because he thought it belonged there.
Collections, contd.• In 2005, a Saudi prince donated $20 million to build a wing for the Islamic Art in the museum. It is the largest gift any museum has ever received.• This is the oldest example of a globe that shows the stars instead of the Earth. It was made by Yunusibn al- Husayn al-Asturlabi in 1145 AD (539 Hijri)
Collections, contd. • In 2009, the American artist, Cy Tombly, was invited to paint the ceiling of the Salle des Bronzes. He was only the third artist to get this honor and it took him 2 years to complete. It is called “Ceiling”.
Controversies• After Napoleon’s army was defeated at Waterloo, many artists wanted their works (that were taken during the battles) returned. The directors of the Louvre did not want to give them back and hid many pieces of art. Most of them were eventually returned, however. The same thing happened after the Nazi occupation.• The French felt that they had the right to these pieces of art and it has been a long process to return all the things that were taken. Many of the pieces in the Louvre still have not been claimed by their owners.
Different Locations• Lens: • Abu Dhabi: In 2004, the French Prime In 2007, it was announced that another Louvre museum Minister decided to build a would be constructed in Abu branch museum of the Dhabi on the Saadiyat Island. Louvre in the French The final cost of the city, Lens. The reason is that construction is estimated between €83 million and there are so many works of €108 million. It was designed art in the Louvre and so many by Jean Nouvel. Artwork from people visiting that another all over the world will be location was needed to rotated to the museum in Abu Dhabi periodically. relieve the crowd in the However, there have been museum in Paris. It will be many controversies over this completed in 2012. project.
Louvre Abu Dhabi• Abu Dhabi paid $525 million to use the name of the Louvre and $247 million to loan artwork from the Louvre itself. The contract also prevents any other Arab countries and the other Emirates from creating another branch of the Louvre.• Many museum and art experts have argued that “museums are not for sale” and that this move was clearly motivated by money. Henri Loyrette, the president of the Louvre, and Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyanboth responded saying that the name is worth the price and that it is simply a tribute to France and and the cultural ties between the two nations.
Louvre Abu Dhabi, contd.• Other questions were raised as to the content of the artwork that could be displayed in the museum due to its location in a Muslim country. However, it has been stated that it will not affect the museum or the themes of the artwork shown.• The third issue attacked was the abuse of the construction workers involved in building the museum. Over 120 international artists boycotted the Louvre and Guggenheim museums in an attempt to improve the situation.