The Louvre, for hundreds of years, it has been a part of French culture. As a medieval fortress in the beginning, the palace for the King of France, and a
museum for the last two centuries, this place has been a milestone for the FreNch. The Louvre has been a piece of history for over 800 years. Its architecture was very advanced for its time, and is still considered advanced for the 21st century.
In the beginning, The Louvre was used as a royal palace.
It was built by King Phillippe Augustine in the late 12th century. The library of Charles V - installed in one of the towers of the original fortress of Philippe August - was eventually taken away, and to this day, no one knows how.. Fran ois I began a new collection of art with 12 paintings from Italy. These included works by Titian, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci, the most famous being the Joconde or Mona Lisa. The royal collection grew and by the reign of Louis XIII, numbered roughly 200 pieces. Henri II, and Catherine de M dicis continued to enlarge the collection, as did others. When Louis XIV died in 1715, there were 2,500 pieces of art and objects. Until the Revolution, this collection was strictly for the private pleasure of the Court. Finally, the idea of a museum (originating with Louis XVI) was realized on 10 August 1793, when the Mus e de la R publique opened to the public. Napol on greatly increased the collections by exacting tribute from the countries he conquored, but most of these were returned in 1815 after his defeat at Waterloo. Under Louis XVIII the Venus de Milo was aquired (for 6000F) shortly after it was rediscovered on the Island of Melos in 1820. In 1848 the museum became the property of the State. With an annual budget devoted to aquiring new art, the collections continued to grow. Private donations also augmented the Museum's holdings. In 1947 the impressionist paintings were moved to the Jeu de Paume and l'Orangerie. (In 1986 these were transfered to the Mus e d'Orsay.) Today, the catalogue lists about 300,000 works, only a fraction of which are on display at any one time. Le Grand Louvre - begun in 1981 is transforming the museum once again enlarging it substantially. The Richelieu Wing which had ``temporarily'' housed part of the Ministry of Finance since the 18th century - was opened in 1993.
The Louvre was not in any way originally intended to become a museum. The "salle des antiques" which Henri VI set up on the ground floor of the Grande Galerie was not accessible to the general public, nor was the king's cabinet of drawings, created in 1671, or the king's cabinet of paintings, to which access was reserved for a privileged few.
From the date when, under Louis XIV, most of its occupants left the Louvre, its vocation as a "palace of the arts" appeared a quite natural progression in the eyes of the resident artists and the academies. The idea of a Palace of the Muses or "Mus um", where one could view the royal collections, was born in 1747. The museum concept, which was quite new at the time, ran along the same lines as the Encyclopedia and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. From 1779, purchases and museographical projects demonstrate the imminence of its realisation.
The "Grand Louvre" is a part of the "Grand Travaux" or Major Works defined by the President of the Republic Fran ois Mitterrand, which