The Louvre Museum is probably the most famous and largest art museum in the world with approximately 6,000 European paintings. It has been influenced by major events in French history and has had many architects and decorators make changes and additions to the original structure. When the Orsay Museum was created in 1986, most of the post 1848 works left the Louvre and were transferred to the new Musuem which is close by.
The Louvre was built on the site of a medieval fortress, the official residence of the French Kings during the 16th and 17th centuries before the court moved to Versailles in 1682. It officially became a "Peoples Museum" in 1793 after the Revolution, and is now one of the most important museums in the world.
Its collection, which ranges from Egyptian art of 5000 BC to nineteenth-century work, is divided into seven departments: Oriental and Islamic Antiquities; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Roman and Etruscan Antiquities; Painting; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; and Graphic Arts.
Throughout the 17th century, as France assumed a dominant role in Europe, the Louvre's holdings increased dramatically. Particularly important acquisitions during this period were major works by the great Dutch and Flemish masters. In the 18th century the annual salon exhibitions were established. The first state museum was opened in the Louvre in 1793. The central position held by the Louvre in artistic life was magnified by Napoleon I, who began its Egyptian collection. The overall museum complex was completed under Napoleon III (r. 1852-70). Subsequently, the Louvre expanded its collections greatly through gifts and bequests. Its departments now include Oriental (ancient Mesopotamian), Greek and Roman, and Egyptian antiquities; sculpture from the Middle Ages to modern times; furniture and objets d'art; and European paintings and drawings.
In the late 1980's during the construction of I.M. Pei's pyramids, the original Medieval fortress base was unearthed, quickly incorporated into the design, and is now on display as part of the museum's collection.
The relaxing Tuileries garden near by the Louvre museum is one of the most beautiful parks in Paris. Altogether a first class combination well worth a full day of your time.