France:

Did you know that there is a museum housed in a former royal palace that is the most visited museum in the world? In 2019 it had a total of 9.6 million visitors! It would take you around 200 days to see each of the 35,000 works of art on display at the museum if you took 30 seconds to see each and every piece. Not only that, the museum owns roughly 550,000 works, most of which it keeps locked up in storage.
 
Amazing, right?
 
It is indeed The Louvre in Paris
 
On the Right Bank, just north of the western tip of the Île de la Cité, stands the Louvre, one of the world’s largest palaces….
 
In 1546 Francis I, who was a great art collector, had this old castle razed and began to build on its site another royal residence, the Louvre, which was added to by almost every subsequent French monarch. In the 17th century, major additions were made to the building complex by Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Cardinal de Richelieu, the chief minister of Louis XIII, acquired great works of art for the king. Louis XIV and his minister, Cardinal Mazarin, acquired outstanding art collections, including that of Charles I of England.
 
The Louvre ceased to be a royal residence when Louis XIV moved his court to Versailles in 1682. The idea of using the Louvre as a public museum originated in the 18th century.
 
The Louvre building complex underwent a major remodelling in the 1980s and ’90s in order to make the old museum more accessible and accommodating to its visitors. The ground-level entrance to this complex was situated in the centre of the Cour Napoléon and was crowned by a controversial steel-and-glass pyramid designed by the American architect I.M. Pei.
 
In 1993, on the museum’s 200th anniversary, the rebuilt Richelieu wing, formerly occupied by France’s Ministry of Finance, was opened; for the first time, the entire Louvre was devoted to museum purposes. The new wing, also designed by Pei, had more than 230,000 square feet (21,368 square metres) of exhibition space, originally housing collections of European painting, decorative arts, and Islamic art.
 
Three glass-roofed interior courtyards displayed French sculpture and ancient Assyrian artworks. The museum’s expanding collection of Islamic art later moved into its own wing (opened 2012), for which Italian architects Mario Bellini and Rudy Ricciotti enclosed another interior courtyard beneath an undulating gold-coloured roof made of glass and steel.
 
In 2012 a satellite location of the Louvre in the northern French town of Lens opened to the public. The museum, designed by the Japanese architects Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa, was intended to boost the economy of the region and to alleviate crowds at the Paris site.
 
 

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