Want to learn more about the Louvre? From interesting ideas to historical events you probably didn’t know about, here are the fun facts about the Louvre Museum!
And while its grand design and size make it popular, it’s the fact that it houses the most famous painting in the world that makes it stand out!
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You might know these already, but there are some other facts about the Louvre Museum you may not know, yet they also contribute a great deal to its glory.
From the architectural beauty and a thousand years’ worth of history, here are the Louvre facts that will increase your knowledge about this Parisian landmark.
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WHERE TO STAY
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- Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook.
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- Consider getting either the museum pass or the Paris city pass if you plan to visit a lot of attractions. The city pass comes with free transportation and access to the hop-on-hop-off bus. You can read my Paris museum pass review to see if it’s right for you.
- Book this private transfer from CDG airport to Paris to avoid the hustle of figuring out how to get to Paris.
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Interesting facts about the Louvre museum
Whether you want to know more about the museum before you plan your trip to Paris or you just want to increase your knowledge base, here are some cool facts about Louvre Museum!
1. The Louvre is the most-visited art museum in the world
There is no art museum in the world that receives as many people as the Louvre!
To put it into perspective, the museum receives nearly 9-10 million visitors every year according to the Statista Research Department! This averages to around 27,000 people per day!
With all those numbers, I am sure you can imagine how long the queues can get! So to get fast entry when visiting, I recommend buying this skip-the-line entry ticket before you go.
Pro tip* To fully enjoy your visit, I recommend booking this Louvre Museum guided tour! This tour comes with a knowledgeable, professional yet friendly tour guide that will show you all the artworks you shouldn’t miss while giving you all the historical info you need to know.
2. It is the largest museum in the world
On top of being the most visited museum in the world, it is also the largest covering an area of 652,300 square feet (60,600 square meters).
To help you get the picture of how big it is, over 10,000 people can be inside the museum at the same time without feeling squeezed at all.
3. The Louvre Houses the Famous Mona Lisa Painting
Regarded as the most famous painting in the world, Mona Lisa painted by Leonardo da Vinci calls the Louvre home.
The painting is so popular that sometimes even non-art lovers make their way to the Louvre just to see this one piece of art.
Contrary to what you may think, Mona Lisa is quite small. Actually, most people are shocked when they first see it as it’s just 77 cm x 53 cm. This makes it just a tard bit bigger than an A2 piece of paper.
However, its unique feature of her looking “at you” regardless of where you stand, and her intriguing and enigmatic smile makes up for that.
There are many interesting paintings in the Louvre museum but Mona Lisa takes the crown of being the most visited, most sung about, and the most famous.
4. It would Take over 3 months to see all the art pieces in Louvre
The Louvre is so big that it’s absolutely impossible to see everything in just one single visit even if you spend the whole day there.
Actually, recent studies show that it would take 100 days to see every piece of art and that is if you spend just 30 seconds in front of every object.
This doesn’t include breaks or meal times! And even if it were doable, the artifacts in the Louvre are so impressive to spend just 30 seconds in front of them!
I would say the reasonable average will be 3 minutes per piece if you’re someone who likes to look deep into a piece and imagine what the painter or sculptor may have thought when putting it together– at least that’s what I do every time I visit this museum.
Read more: A weekend in Paris itinerary
5. Mona Lisa Painting is currently valued at US$860 million
One of the other Louvre Museum facts is that it houses not only the most famous painting but also the most expensive one!
Though the last assessment in 1962 put Mona Lisa at US$100 million, today, the value would be over US$860 million if you take inflation into account.
The painting is too valuable that is surrounded by bullet-proof glass and there are barricades to prevent visitors from getting too close to it. Yes, it even has its own bodyguards!
6. It was once called Musée Naopléon
When Naopléon came to power in 1804, he change the name from Louvre museum to Naopléon museum and it remained so for 11 years until 1814 when his reign came to an end.
7. Mona Lisa Was a Beloved Painting Even to Naopléon
You can’t talk about the Louvre without Mona Lisa coming up numerous times since it’s the most famous painting in the museum.
But did you know that the prominent Naopléon also loved Mona Lisa? In fact, he loved the painting so much that he had it hung in his bedroom for a number of years during his reign.
It is believed that it is one of the events that made the Mona Lisa so famous to date.
8. The Mona Lisa was once Stolen
This is one of the interesting facts about the Mona Lisa and probably the main event that made the painting famous compared to Leonardo Da Vinci’s other paintings!
Mona Lisa was stolen! This will probably never happen again considering the amount of security it has now but long before this, an Italian man named Peruggia stole it in 1911.
It is believed that this Italian man was hired by the Louvre to make protective glass cases for some of its artworks but somehow managed to hide inside a closet so that he couldn’t leave after his work shift.
It was during the night when everyone had left that he hid it in his clothes and when morning came, he simply walked out of the museum with the masterpiece.
Shockingly, no one noticed the painting was even missing until after 24 hours, and that’s when a seemingly “not so special painting” gained the world’s interest.
The event was all over international newspapers and after 2 years and over 60 detectives hired to search for it, Mona Lisa was recovered and returned back to her permanent home in the Louvre!
9. The Louvre Houses over 380,000 objects
While there is only 35,000 objects on display and spread over 60,600 square metres (652,000 sq ft), the Louvre houses over 380, 000 objects.
This means that the museum displays less than 10% of its entire collection.
10. The Louvre Was initially a fortress
One of the Louvre museum facts that most people don’t know is that it was initially a fortress.
During the reign of King Philippe Auguste, it was decided that since Paris was the biggest city in Europe and the Monarchy was growing day by the day, the city needed a fortress to increase its protection. And that’s exactly what they did by constructing the Louvre in 1190 in a strategic position!
But as Paris grew bigger than the initial walls of the Louvre fortress, the fortress kinda lost its meaning as the defensive towers could no longer defend the city and they had to look for new protective ideas.
11. The Louvre was once a Palace
While still on the history of the Louvre, it’s worth noting that it was once a Palace.
Following the line of history, when they realized that the Louvre could no longer work as a fortress, King Charles V decided that it be transformed into a royal palace.
The building was remodeled from a fortress to a Palace with new features like lavish furnishings, luxury paintings, and hand molds added to be worthy of the royal families.
Over the years, the Louvre palace went into renovations to suit the taste of the reigning royals from King Henri IV, Napoleon I, King François I, King Louis XIII, etc to King Louis XVI who commissioned it to change from a palace to a museum in 1793.
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12. It’s unclear where the Louvre got its name from
While the name “Louvre” has carried on for centuries until now, it’s unclear where it originated from.
According to Wikipedia, there are 2 theories that surround the origin of the name!
The first one is “According to the authoritative Grand Larousse encyclopédique, the name derives from an association with wolf hunting den (via Latin: lupus, lower Empire: lupara).”
And the second is “In the 7th century, Burgundofara (also known as Saint Fare), abbess in Meaux, is said to have gifted part of her “Villa called Luvra situated in the region of Paris” to a monastery, even though it is doubtful that this land corresponded exactly to the present site of the Louvre.”
But regardless of which theory is correct, it has had this name since the 12th century and there is no sign of ever-changing.
13. Louvre has a school of art Within Its walls
One of the other facts about the Louvre museum or the le Louvre facts if you may is that not many tourists know that there is a school inside the Louvre.
Honestly, there is no better place to get a degree in art than the most famous art museum itself!
Named The École du Louvre (or translated as The School of Louvre), the school which is located in the Aile de Flore is an institution of higher learning where you can literally get an undergraduate degree, a master’s degree, or even a doctoral in the fields of archaeology, art history, anthropology, and epigraphy.
Of course, you’ll need to have competitive grades to be admitted but you’ll be assured of learning from the best!
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14. Artworks move in the Louvre
If you don’t frequent the Louvre, you may never notice this but if you enjoy visiting every now and then, you’ll realize that art pieces change location from time to time.
Being a large museum, it makes sense to visit it a number of times before you can say you’ve seen part of it but you’ll be surprised to reach the location of your favorite object and realize that it has moved or see completely different artworks in place of where you left them. Of course, there are some that may never change places but some of them do.
This could either be that they were taken for cleaning, lent to other museums for temporary exhibitions, or even for restoration.
15. One of Louvre’s paintings Was cut in half
The “Wedding Feast at Cana” painting which is actually one of my favorite art pieces in the Louvre and also the largest in the entire museum was cut in half. I bet this is one of the facts about the Louvre museum you probably didn’t know.
If you don’t know this painting, it depicts the biblical story where Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding in Cana.
When Napolean raided Italy, he took over some of its paintings including the painting in question from one of the Venetian churches.
However, the painting was too oversized to transport to France so they made a decision to cut it in half to be able to transport it with ease.
When I visited the Louvre, I tried to look out for the line that was cut but I couldn’t find it though some people say that you can still see it. Well, I probably don’t have the best eyesight but the next time you visit, you can look closely and check if you’ll see it.
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16. The Louvre only had 537 paintings when it first opened
While it’s now the household name when it comes to art housing over 380, 000 objects, it wasn’t always the case.
As they say, Rome wasn’t built in one day and neither was the Louvre! When it first opened as a museum on August 10, 1793, it only had 537 paintings but throughout the years, the collection has grown to what we now know.
Today, it has the largest number of paintings in Paris and the world at large.
17. Painter Pablo Picasso was once accused of stealing the Mona Lisa
I’ve already mentioned that the Mona Lisa painting was once stolen but before they found out that it was an Italian man who had committed the crime, Pablo Picasso who was a famous painter at the time was initially accused of stealing the painting.
In fact, he was the prime suspect and was taken in front of a judge together with his then-friend and writer Guillaume Apollinaire.
How did all this come to be? Well, Guillaume Apollinaire’s former secretary, Honore-Joseph Géry Pieret testified that he had previously stolen some art pieces from the Louvre and sold it to his “friends” and those friends happen to be Pablo Picasso and Guillaume Apollinaire.
Of course, it didn’t seem far-fetched that the people who had initially bought stolen art from the Louvre could possibly also have the Mona Lisa and that’s why they were prime suspects.
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18. The Louvre Can be found in 2 other Places
While the one in Paris is the most famous, there are 2 other Louvre (s) in the world, one on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and the other in Lens in Northern France.
Born out of a partnership between France and the UAE, Louvre Abu Dhabi came to life in 2007. The agreement allows the museum to use the name Louvre until 2037.
This also includes rotating up to 300 artworks to Louvre Abu Dhabi during temporary exhibitions with some coming directly from the Louvre Museum and others from Paris’ partner museums including the Musée d’Orsay, Palace of Versailles, Centre Georges Pompidou, and some others.
Due to its name, rotating artworks from museums in Paris, and its growing collection of permanent art (currently at 700 ), Louvre Abu Dhabi now receives over 2 million visitors which makes it the most visited museum in the Arab world.
And as for Louvre-Lens, the main goal for its opening in 2012 was to make Louvre’s national collections easily accessible to more people in the country while also expanding Louvre’s regional development.
The museum displays 200 artworks that are on loan from the Louvre in Paris.
19. It’s believed that the Louvre has ghosts and is haunted
Here is one of the interesting Louvre facts or myths if you may! It is believed that due to the warriors that died in this place, there are a number of ghosts that roam around, and that in particular, a mummy named Belphegor haunts the hallways.
Also, apparently, there is a ghost of the Tuileries Gardens, called the Red Man that haunts the place and apparently, a few people have seen it!
Whether you choose to believe this or not really depends on whether you believe in ghosts or not but this is one interesting idea I couldn’t leave out.
20. You can shoot your film in the Louvre
If you ever wanted to make a blockbuster movie or even a music video in the Louvre, now you know it’s possible. I am not talking about just using technology to include it but rather shooting inside the Louvre itself.
Of course, this comes with a huge price tag that could start at 5000 USD and go up to 50, 000 USD or more depending on how big the production is, whether filming is just outside or inside the museum.
But regardless, it’s good to know that it’s possible after all this is one of the ways the Louvre makes money.
Beyonce and Jayz once rented it out to shoot their music video and popular movies like Da Vinci Code, Lupin, Monte Carlo, etc have used it too.
21. 66% of the paintings in the Louvre are works of French artists.
Of all the 5,500 paintings in the Louvre by 1,400 artists, it is believed that over 500 named artists are French by birth which constitutes around 66%.
The most famous ones or those with over 50 paintings in the Louvre include; Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Théodore Chassériau, Peter Paul Rubens, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and others.
Of course, keep in mind that some of the paintings have no known painters but for the known ones, those are the figures.
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22. Mona Lisa went on Various tours
At this point, you have to agree that Mona Lisa is the most famous painting in the world if you still had any doubts! I mean she went on tours!
When the USA’s former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy visited Paris together with President Kennedy, she charmed everyone with her fluent French and her deep-rooted love and knowledge of French culture and history.
This love coupled with her passion for art, she whispered to André Malraux who was France’s minister of culture about her desire to borrow the Mona Lisa and take it to the US so that she can share Da Vinci’s masterpiece with her people back home.
Though they hesitated at first, her request was honored and in 1963, Mona Lisa was transported to the USA in the utmost conditions and carefully selected temperatures with severe protection.
When it reached American soil, it was showcased first at National Gallery in Washington. DC and later at the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for millions of Americans to see this French treasure — some even traveled long distances and queued for hours just to get a glimpse of it.
Another time the Mona Lisa went on tour was in 1974 in Tokyo and Moscow. Since then, Mona Lisa hasn’t been anywhere else.
23. The oldest piece in the Louvre dates back to 7,000 BC.
While Mona Lisa and others like Eugene Delacroix’s painting, Liberty Leading the People always get the most visitors, another artwork in the Louvre that is worth seeing is The statue of a human figure.
This bizarre-looking artwork dates back to 7,000 BC and is believed to be 9,000 years old.
Although it is owned by the Department of Antiquities of Jordan, is it currently on a long-term loan to the Louvre Museum and can be found in its permanent collection in Room 303, Sully wing, Level 0.
24. It once housed the Famous Bayeux Tapestry
One of the interesting Louvre museum facts many people may not know is that it once housed the famous Bayeux Tapestry.
If you’re not sure what the Bayeux Tapestry is, it is an embroidered cloth that recounts the events before and during the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, led by William, Duke of Normandy, measuring an impressive 70 metres (229.65 ft) long.
From December 1803 to 18 February 1804, the tapestry was displayed in the Louvre (called Napoleon Museum at that time) at the request of the then, Interior Minister as a propaganda tool since Napoleon was planning to invade England in the nearby future.
But this was not the last time this famous piece was displayed in the Louvre. During World War II, the tapestry was sent back to the Louvre by German authorities after the Allied forces advanced against the Nazis.
The piece was once again put on display from 10 November to 15 December 1944 in the Italian Primitives room before returning it Bayeux in 1945.
25. The Louvre Museum Was Once Empty
Staying in the spirit of World War II, one of the facts about the Louvre museum you may not have known before is that the museum was once emptied.
Due to the invasion of Europe by the Nazis, the director of French museums, Jacques Jaujard anticipated that France would be next and he feared that all the artwork in the museum would be looted by the Nazis.
As a way of protecting them, he decided to remove everything from the museum in August 1939 and scattered them around the countryside.
All the pieces (big and small, including the famous Mona Lisa) were carefully wrapped and loaded onto tracks that shipped them to various castles like Château de Chambord.
And throughout the years of World War II, these artworks were moved from one castle to another which helped a lot in keeping them safe — otherwise, the famous Louvre would not have its current collection.
26. Louvre Museum Was Occupied By Nazis During World War II
As Jacques Jaujard anticipated, the Nazis took over Paris and the German department dedicated to looting arts made their way to the Louvre, but to their surprise, the museum was completely empty.
Since there was nothing to loot in the Louvre, they instead used it as a storage place to store all the art they looted from other places before they were sent to German.
27. There is More Than one Pyramid at the Louvre Museum
While most people are familiar with the large pyramid in the courtyard, which is not hard to see why thanks to its Instagrammable look and the fact that this is where the main entrance to the museum is, what most people don’t know is that the Louvre is home to more than one. In fact, there are 5 pyramids.
Just next to the main pyramid, there are 3 other smaller ones and the 5th one is inside the museum just after going through the entrance of the large pyramid.
Unlike the other 4, the one inside is inverted!
28. The Louvre Pyramid Stirred A Controversy
While still on the subject of the Pyramid, another one of the interesting facts about the Louvre museum is that the Pyramid brought up some controversy.
Some people urged that its design (made entirely with glass and metal poles) was too modern and it didn’t flow well with the French Renaissance style of the Louvre.
Others criticized that it was not right to entrust such a project with a Chinese-American architect, I.M. Pei who knew nothing about French culture.
And some just didn’t like the fact that it was related to the Egyptian Pyramids since it took on the same exact shape.
While all these criticisms arose, construction still went on and as with most things that are usually condemned at first, today, I believe (and many other Parisians) that the Louvre courtyard wouldn’t be as captivating as it is today without it.
The pyramid is so beloved now that it has become one of the most Instagrammable places in Paris and has become a landmark of its own.
29. The Louvre Was Once Closed Down Due to Pickpockets
This is probably one of the most interesting facts about the Louvre Museum.
Paris is notorious for pickpockets but it doesn’t end on the streets! It extends even to museums including the famous Louvre.
But one fateful Wednesday in April 2013, the museum’s employees said enough is enough!
They could no longer handle the aggressive and disrespectful behavior of the pickpocketers/thieves who could sometimes insult them, spit on them, or even get physical.
That day, over 100 staff members stopped working and protested the ongoing theft that not only targeted tourists but also the workers themselves.
Fast forward, the museum’s management decided to partner with the police to curb this problem.
Pro tip* While the museum does everything possible to stop pickpockets, even today, there are still a number of them in the museum, so it’s important to take care of your items at all times.
30. The Louvre Was Once An Execution Site
When most people think of popular execution places in Paris, they think of Place de la Concorde since this is where some famous French People like Louis XVI, Marie-Antoinette, and others were executed, but there is another place — enter Louvre museum. Yes, this is one of the Louvre facts that most people don’t know.
On 4 December 1591, 4 people were hung from the ceiling of the Lescot Wing’s lower main room (which is today known as Salle des Caryatides) at the directive of Charles de Guise.
Then during the French Revolution from 21 August 1792 to 11 May 1793, a guillotine was installed on the Place du Carrousel, though it was later moved to Place de la Concorde.
31. The Louvre Was Once a National printing house
One of the interesting facts about the Louvre museum you should know is that it was once a printing house.
During the 1920s, the first printing workshop was introduced in the Louvre as the royals wanted to stop subcontracting their printing work to independent business owners hence turning the Louvre into a royal printing house.
FAQs on The Fun Facts About The Louvre Museum
What is Louvre Museum famous for?
The Louvre Museum is famous for being the largest art museum in the world and for housing the world’s most famous painting — The Mona Lisa.
What was the Louvre before it was a museum
The Louvre was initially constructed as a fortress, then converted into a royal palace, and later into its current state as a museum.
What is the oldest thing in the Louvre?
The statue of a human figure is the oldest thing at the Louvre Museum which is believed to be 9000 years old dating to 7,000 BC.
What is the most famous thing at the Louvre?
No doubt the most famous thing at the Louvre museum is the Mona Lisa painting.
What is the most expensive item in the Louvre?
The most expensive item in the Louvre museum is still the Mona Lisa painting.
How big is the Louvre Museum
The Louvre measures 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).
Final Thought on the Interesting Facts About the Louvre Museum
And there you have it, friends! I hope that these facts on the Louvre have increased your knowledge about the largest museum in the world.
With all the years of history it has and how important it is to France, you ought to visit it when you visit Paris.
Which Louvre facts in this article surprised you the most? Was is it the ghosts that roam the Louvre or the fact that Mona Lisa was stolen once? I would like to hear your thoughts — so do let me know in the comments below.
But for now, check out other posts on the blog to prepare for your visit well.
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