The Louvre Museum (in French: Musée du Louvre) is the largest art museum in the world and a historical monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the right bank of the River Seine in the 1st arrondissement. Approximately 38,000 objects, from prehistory to the 21st century, are displayed in an area of 72,735 square meters. In 2017, the Louvre was the most visited art museum in the world, receiving 8.1 million visitors.
The museum is located in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th to 13th centuries under the reign of Philip II. The remains of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to the urban expansion of the city, the fortress ended up losing its defensive function and, in 1546, was converted by Francisco I in the main residence of the French kings. The building was enlarged many times until forming the present Palace of the Louvre. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles as his residence, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and by the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture. The Académie remained in the Louvre by 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Constituent Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation’s masterpieces.
The museum was inaugurated on August 10, 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, most of which are royal works or confiscated properties of the church. Because of structural problems with construction, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was augmented under the rule of Napoleon and the museum was renamed the “Napoleon Museum”, but after his abdication many works seized by his Napoleonic armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further enhanced during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X and during the Second French Empire the museum won 20,000 pieces. Participations have steadily grown through donations and legacies since the Third Republic. The collection is divided into eight curative departments: Egyptian antiquities; antiques from the Middle East; Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; Islamic art; sculpture; decorative arts; paintings; prints and drawings.