Visiting the Louvre is one of the big things to do in Paris. To make sure your trip to Paris is extra special make sure to familiarize yourself with some of these Louvre museum facts before hitting Paris. Some of these facts are facts while others are more low-key you’ve probably never heard of.
Louvre Museum Facts
#1 The Louvre is the Largest Museum in the World:
Located in Paris the Louvre covers nearly 73,000 square meters. Some masterpieces you can’t miss include the Venus de Milo and the iconic Mona Lisa.
#2 Bullet Proof Mona Lisa:
“I’m Bullet Proof- Nothing to Lose Fire away, fire away”. The Mona Lisa is the most visited painting at the Louvre. She is also subject to much well… attacks. Just days of writing this post she had soup thrown on her by ecologist advocators.
She is protected with a bullet proof glass and has her own dedicated bodyguards. Very 007 right? Most visitors are surprised by how small she is measuring only 30 inches by 20 (or 77x 53 cm).
#3 The Louvre Started as a Fortress:
Originally the Louvre began as a fortress during the 12th century. It underwent numerous transformations throughout history. It served as a residence for kings and nobles before eventually evolving into the globally acclaimed museum it is today. It used to be home to figures like Louis XIV before they relocated to the Palace of Versailles.
#4 Mona Lisa Heist:
A curious event took place at the Louvre in 1911 when the Mona Lisa was stolen. The daring thief took advantage of a day when the museum was closed and hid himself within the museum overnight to execute his plan.
The Story of Stealing the Mona Lisa
The story of “Stealing Mona Lisa” remains one of history’s most famous art thefts. It happened on August 21st, 1911 within the Louvre Museum. The perpetrator, behind this act was Vincenzo Peruggia, a handyman who cleverly exploited Mondays when maintenance took place at the museum. Having previously worked at the Louvre himself Peruggia hid inside the museum overnight to orchestrate his plan.
On that Monday morning, he took advantage of the situation by pretending to be a worker, at the Louvre in order to take the Mona Lisa from the wall. He carefully hid the painting under his work clothes. And lowkey casually walked out with it.
Because the museum was closed no one noticed the theft until a day later. When they discovered that the Mona Lisa was missing a massive investigation was launched. The news of this stolen masterpiece quickly spread worldwide causing quite a sensation.
Peruggia believed he was reclaiming a treasure since Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian artist created the painting. After keeping it hidden for over two years, he reached out to an art dealer in Florence, Italy in an attempt to sell it.
However, suspicious of the circumstances surrounding Peruggias offer the art dealer contacted the police instead. Peruggia was caught. And in 1914 the Mona Lisa was safely returned to the Louvre. As you can imagine, this incident only added to its fame. Feeding into Mona’s large ego as she became more popular, attracting countless visitors from all around who wanted to see it.
#5 Pyramid Panic:
The famous glass pyramid, at the entrance of the Louvre was officially unveiled to the public in 1989. Today it has become a symbol of this museum. Before the glass pyramid was accepted as a symbol of the Louvre, it caused some controversy. Some Parisians found it modern and out of place, but now it’s an iconic feature.
#6 The Louvre was Called the Napoleon Museum:
The Louvre was actually renamed the “Musée Napoléon” (Napoleon Museum). This name change took place in 1803 when Napoleon transformed the Louvre into a public museum and expanded its collections. Napoleon Bonaparte was known for looting art during his military campaigns, and he used the Louvre to store it.
#7 The Louvre’s Hidden Tunnels:
Under the Louvre are hidden tunnels and passages that connect sections of the museum. Some of these tunnels were used during World War II to move artworks to other locations so the Nazi’s wouldn’t get a hold of them. When Hitler’s army arrived in Paris, they discovered that the Louvre had been pretty much emptied.
#8 The Louvre Was Almost Destroyed by a Fire:
The Louvre almost faced destruction by fire during an event related to the Paris Commune on May 23rd 1871. A group consisting of thirty individuals known as “fédérés ” led by a butcher named Victor Bénot attempted to set fire to the Louvre.
#9 The Louvre’s Inverted Pyramid:
Did you know there’s a shopping center underneath the Louvre with the only inverted pyramid. It’s called the Carrousel du Louvre mall and you can see find this architectural twist right outside the Louvre entrance. Unlike its glass counterpart the Louvres Inverted Pyramid in the mall does not have a glass ceiling making it more mysterious and captivating.
#10 Louvre Sleepover:
In 2019 Airbnb provided a once in a lifetime opportunity for a winner and their guests to spend a night in a temporary living space, inside the Louvre surrounded by iconic artworks. As part of this promotion the winner had the privilege of staying in a designed pop up apartment, within the museum, which offered a bedroom with delightful views of the renowned glass pyramid.
The experience included a tour of the museum guided by an art historian, a concert held in Napoleon III Apartments and a gourmet dinner. Now that’s what I call dreamy.
Would you do this or find it over the top? Let me know in the comments.
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