The Louvre is the most famous art museum in the world. It also has the most number of visitors per year. It is home to many great works of art that are historically significant in Western culture. It was originally built as a royal palace for King Philipp II. The architecture is similar to the French Renaissance style of the famous architect Pierre Lescot. Its use as a place to showcase art started at around the time of French Revolution. The idea began from the Luxembourg Palace in Paris which was then followed by the Louvre.
The Louvre originally collected the works or Leonardo da Vinci and Andrea del Sarto. Extensions of the site were commissioned as the continued expansion of the Louvre necessitated it. As France grew in power and stature in the 17th century, it was able to acquire increasing holdings. Major works from Dutch artists were acquired for display in the museum. Today, the collection is added by gifts from citizens.
One of the primary goals of the Louvre is to preserve and protect French art treasures. This includes collections from the early part of its history up to recent acquisitions to this day. They seek to give access to as large amount of people as possible to the beauty of all these works. The museum loans different works of art to different institutions all over the world too.
It has partnerships with other major art institutions. It was recently announced that a Louvre museum will be constructed in Abu Dhabi and should be completed in 2012. It will house work from different French museums, including those from the Louvre as well.
The Louvre Pyramid is the main entrance of the museum. The French president Francois Mitterrand hired the Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei to construct the glass pyramid. This was one of the first renovations from the Grand Louvre Project.
The Louvre houses some of the finest art collections in the world. There are eight departments, which are as follows: Paintings, Prints and Drawings, Decorative Arts, Sculptures, Islamic Art, Egyptian Antiquities, Greek and Roman Antiquities and Near Eastern Antiquities.
The museum has a collection of almost 12,000 paintings. The Mona Lisa is one of the more prominent pieces found in the museum. It is a 16th century portrait painted by Leonardo da Vinci. It is considered as one of the most famous paintings in the world. The picture is of an expressionless woman, which has been the subject of countless debates and arguments. The painting has undergone a number of conservation treatments leading to its' relatively excellent state.
Other exhibits include sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo. Also known as the Aphrodite of Milos, it is an ancient Greek statue depicting Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty. It is made of marble with the absence or arms from the sculpture being quite notable.
Aside from the aforementioned exhibits, others include engravings, drawings, books and archeology. To keep up with the times, the Louvre continually expands and develops new areas in the museum.