The Louvre: a museum, an institution, a school
Apr 14, 2024

The Louvre: a museum, an institution, a school

The Louvre: a museum, an institution, a school
Julien Mainguy

French and based in Vancouver since 2014, Julien Mainguy is the co-founder of Best of France. Passionate about the cultural difference between Canada and Europe, he is leading numerous projects to create awareness, help people grow, and bring communities together.

Located in the heart of Paris, the Louvre is an iconic symbol of art, history and culture but, most of all, a symbol of France. As one of the most famous museums in the world, it has captured the imagination of millions of visitors from all over the world with its incredible exhibitions of masterpieces. Yet the Louvre is not only a repository of humanity's greatest artistic achievements but also an institution of learning and a school of inspiration. In addition, l’Ecole du Louvre offers academic classes for students to nourish the legacy of this institution. If you want to know more about the museum that never ceases to fascinate the world, read what follows!

The Louvre from outside

A museum of treasures

History of the museum

Located near the Sainte-Anne neighbourhood in Paris, the Louvre Museum is a historical monument. Its roots go back to the end of the 12th century. At this time, Paris needed protection from its enemies, so a fortress called the Château de Louvre was built to protect the city. Over the centuries, the fortress has grown, developed, and served multiple purposes. It even became the royal residence of the French monarchs. During the reign of King Louis XIV in the 17th century, the Louvre began to be converted into a museum. The Monarch's extensive art collection finally opened to the public, making it one of the first public art museums in the world and a symbol of reunion between the Monarch and its people through art. Over time, the Louvre's collection expanded significantly and has included nowadays works of art from various civilizations and eras.

Its most famous art pieces

Some works of art have survived through the centuries and have thoroughly shaped history. Their influence spans times and cultures and is still recognized by experts and admired by all. Indeed, the Louvre houses some of the most famous works in the world - paintings, sculptures, architectural elements and artworks by famous or anonymous artists of various origins. Here are some of those you should absolutely see:

Exhibitions of the Louvre

La Joconde by Leonardo da Vinci

This portrait of the young Italian woman named Mona Lisa is the most famous piece of art in the museum and one of the most famous in the world. Napoléon brought it back to France after he conquered Italy to display it at the Louvre. Although its fame is not up for debate, its simplicity appears surprising. What makes this painting so unique is probably its history which shocked the people at the time. In the early 20th century, an Italian janitor stole it to bring it where he thought it belonged, Florence. The press took hold of the story, making the painting even more famous. Everyone came to the Louvre to see the newly found Mona Lisa

La Joconde

The Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix

This painting is probably the dearest there is to the French people as it symbolically embodies its history and values. First of all, Delacroix is one of the most renowned painters in French history and one of the greatest romantic painters of all time.

This painting represents allegorically a pivotal time in France: the revolution of 1830. The woman holding the Tricolore flag of France at the center of the scene is the allegory of the liberty the people are fighting for alongside. This flag she is brandishing was the one the militia bore when storming the Bastille and is the one that will replace the royal blue flag with the gold fleur-de-lys that was oppressing the French people.

La Liberté guidant le Peuple
La Liberté guidant le Peuple

The Vénus de Milo by Alexandros of Antioch

This marble sculpture was created during the Hellenistic period and stands as one of the most famous works of ancient Greece. It is one of the pillar artworks of the museum since its discovery on the island of Milos in Greece in 1820. The feminine figure is believed to depict the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite and Venus, for the Romans. The sculpture is missing parts, including both arms of the goddess, but the quality of the artist’s work on the details and her poised grace make it an utterly captivating work of art.

La Vénus de Milo

The Coronation of Napoléon by Jacques-Louis David

When visiting the Louvre, you cannot miss this massive artwork.The extraordinary scene depicted took place at Notre-Dame with the presence of the Pope himself, probably not voluntarily. Indeed, Napoléon took over Rome in 1796 after defeating the papal army, leading him to drag the previous pope to France. Napoléon’s arrogance is showcased to claim his quality of Emperor as he crowns himself after taking the crown from the pope. Then, he personally crowned his beloved wife, Josephine, as empress. In this scene, some may see Napoléon overpowering the Pope by putting the crown on himself and so considering himself a god.

The Raft of Medusa by Théodore Géricault

This painting is the pinnacle of French Romanticism, an artistic movement which depicts highly dramatic and intense scenes. The Raft of Medusa was an instant hit and brought fame to the painter. The painting depicts a raft full of the victims of a shipwreck. We can see a French navy frigate ignoring their distress. It also describes the horrors that must have followed, like hysteria…

However, those are just a meagre example of all the masterpieces you can find at the Louvre… If you want to see them, plan your trip to Paris! 

An institution of learning

Education, research and conservation

The Louvre is not only a museum but also an institution dedicated to education, research and conservation. Its education department offers a wealth of programs and resources for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Guided tours, workshops, lectures and educational events help visitors delve deeper into artworks and promote a better understanding and appreciation of cultural heritage. It is also a gook way to arouse the artistic sense of the youngest. Visiting the Louvre is considered to be an enriching experience which is why it is often in the academic program of French schools. As a matter of fact, discovering such collections and seeing the efforts put into their conservation and the research made about them can develop one’s love for art and respect for its cultural heritage. Indeed, the museum is not only meant to display works of art but is also a centre of research with impressive archives and a stunning library where many passionate people work to preserve this cradle of beauty.

L’Ecole du Louvre

In addition, the Louvre promotes scholarly research and the study of art history in collaboration with universities, private schools, scholars and researchers worldwide. It is a school of excellence for which many students compete. Hence, the museum is considered a hub for knowledge-sharing that hosts conferences, workshops and exhibitions highlighting breakthrough discoveries in the art world. The Museum's extensive resources under the forms of archives and collections of books are of invaluable value for art passionate and historians wishing to unravel the mysteries behind the world's greatest masterpieces

A school of inspiration

A muse and its impact nowadays

The Louvre is not only a place of exhibition for art, but also a place of creation. Walking through the museum, you can see artists practicing trying to reproduce the artwork on display. They often sketch sculptures, for example. Indeed, providing such a place of beauty allows us to nourish the artistic sense and to stimulate imagination and talent. To this extent, one could say that the museum still serves as a reserve of artistic muse. 

Legacy and Heritage

The Louvre takes its role as guardian of cultural heritage seriously. It houses and employs teams of conservation and restoration experts who work tirelessly to ensure the long-lasting preservation of the artworks and their preservation for future generations. The museum's commitment to conservation extends beyond itself to include initiatives to protect and preserve endangered cultural heritage and artworks around the world. One may say that the museum is a symbol of the French legacy and more generally of the humane artistic heritage. 

La Fromagerie du Louvre

The Fromagerie du Louvre offers a unique taste experience by guiding you through an original cheese tasting accompanied by wine and product history. It bears its name as a tribute to the museum’s heritage. Until a century ago, underground galleries linked the Louvre to many places in Paris, including this cheese speciality store, before they were occupied by metro lines. The Louvre has inspired this company that wants to make this heritage a mark of progress with an innovative concept: the products proposed are artisanal, come from an environmentally conscious agriculture, and are proposed in a completely new way by combinations off the beaten track. Their goal is to make the fromagerie in the spirit of the times while clinging to the Parisian culture embodied by the Louvre. 

All in all, the Louvre is more than a museum. It is an institution that educates and inspires the whole world. Its collections not only demonstrate the ingenuity of human creativity, but also testify to the collective memory of our shared history. As a school of inspiration, it encourages artists and art lovers to delve into the past to create a better and more culturally rich future. The enduring legacy of the Louvre as a symbol of art and education will continue to captivate generations to come. Therefore, if you had to go to only one French museum, we would recommend you to try the Louvre as it is one of the most tangible signs of the French culture and Art de Vivre. If you wish to see more about France, follow Best of France facebook page!

The Louvre