The Louvre is, safe to say, synonymous with Paris and European art. Arguably, as the world’s largest museum it’s not surprising that it welcomed 9.7 million visitors in 2012 alone – so imagine how many it gets today! With new exhibitions and a renowned permanent collection of some of the most priceless pieces of art, the Louvre is a must-visit on your trip to Paris.
We thought we’d test your knowledge with some fun True or False questions, to see how much you know:
True or False: The Louvre Museum was originally built as a fortress?
True! In 1190 the Louvre was originally built as a fortress, complete with a moat and a 98 foot keep, to defend against invasion from the north. Later, the Louvre was turned into a royal palace in the 16th century and came to symbolise the power, status and decadence of the French monarchy for hundreds of years. Today, you can still see evidence of medieval masonry from the old fort in the Lower Hall.
True or False: The Louvre became an art museum after Louis XIV moved out to Versailles?
True, the Louvre gallery and collection was born when the seat of the French monarchy moved out of Paris in 1793. The first ever exhibits (of which there were only 500!) were the existing royal collection of paintings and artefacts.
True or False: The Mona Lisa has always hung at the Louvre?
False. Da Vinci’s La Gioconda (the real name for Mona Lisa) was originally housed in Palace de Versailles and Chateau du Fontainbleu, before moving to the Louvre permanently after the fall of the monarchy. Well, permanently except for a few occasions: when Napoleon was in power and he took the portrait to hang privately on his bedroom wall; during the Franco-Prussian War and World War II when it was taken away to safety; and when Jaqueline Kennedy arranged for the Mona Lisa to tour museums in New York and Washington DC.
True or False: There are 35,000 works of art on display?
True – but there are many more that the Louvre owns! 35,000 works of art are permanently on display; these include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, Winged Victory and Liberty Leading the People – some of the most popular pieces in the collections. Other galleries in the Louvre collection are in Lens, France, and one opening in Abu Dhabi.
True or False: The architect who designed the Louvre’s glass pyramid was French?
False! When the French President commissioned the re-development of the Louvre in the 1980s, I.M. Pei was chosen and he was the first architect in history to work on the Louvre who wasn’t actually French. A Chinese born American architect, he’s believed to be the ‘master of modern art’ and his other works include the John F. Kennedy Library in Massachusetts.
True or False: The Louvre measures 15 acres in size?
True! Someone worked out that it would take 100 days to see everything in the Louvre if you looked at each item for 30 seconds, all day without stopping. So don’t try and rush it all in a day because it’s impossible! Plan your visit before you come and dedicate 3-5 hours of time to explore the Louvre at leisure. Don’t forget, you can always come back another day!
True or False: everyone has always loved the Louvre?
False – it’s believed that in the 15th century French Kings did not want to go inside the Louvre because they disliked the huge building. Safe to say now that it’s one of the most popular art galleries in the world – and growing ever more popular year on year.
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