22 Interesting Facts About The Louvre Museum in Paris
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!
Located in the 1st arrondissement, this iconic French landmark is worldly known as the largest art museum and one of the best museums in Paris.
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.
Psst… I also have articles about fun facts about Paris, facts about Sacre Coeur, and interesting facts about Arc de Triomphe that you’ll love. Check them out!
Before You Go, Here’s How to Plan Your Visit To Paris: Practical Quick Tips
WHERE TO STAY
Best Eiffel Tower Views: Hôtel Le Walt (9.0)
Luxury stay: Pullman Paris Tour Eiffel (8.2)
Mid-range stay: Hôtel Eiffel (8.7)
Budget Stay: People – Paris Bercy (8.9)
Apartment Rental: Résidence Charles Floquet (9.1)
BEST GUIDED TOURS
Louvre Museum guided tour: (4.5/5)
Seine River Dinner Cruise: (4.7/5)
Montmartre Walking Tour: (4.8/5)
Le Marais Walking Food Tour: (4.5/5)
Versailles Guided Tour: (4.8/5)
Eiffel Tower Guided Tour: (4.4/5)
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
- Prepare your trip extensively with this Paris Travel guidebook.
- Don’t forget a universal travel adapter, a travel neck pouch, and comfortable walking shoes.
- 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.
Psst… Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
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.
Related post: Non-touristy things to do in Paris
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.
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.
NEVER TRAVEL TO PARIS WITHOUT TRAVEL INSURANCE
One of the biggest mistakes you’ll ever make when planning a trip to Paris is to forego Travel Insurance!
You might think that it’s expensive, but when you think of how much it will save you when you lose your valuables or even get sick, then you’ll know that it’s NOT that expensive!
Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for
more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads.
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