When cultural institutions around the world were forced to shutter last year, it left renowned masterpieces like the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, which many once made the pilgrimage for, void of its usual crowd of admirers. The Louvre, the Parisian museum where said masterpieces are displayed, remains closed to this day. But here’s the good news: It has set up a free-to-access platform to showcase its entire collection of artworks online.
The new website currently has more than 480,000 works of art, most of which are part of national collections, registered according to the museum’s eight curatorial departments. Art lovers will be able to view a variety of pieces, from Egyptian antiquities to paintings and Renaissance sculptures.
Besides the works of the Louvre, the site also includes those of the Delacroix museum, the sculptures of the nearby Tuileries and Carrousel gardens as well as “MNR” (Musées Nationaux Récupération, or National Museums Recovery) works, retrieved in Germany after the Second World War and entrusted to the custody of the Louvre while pending restitution to their legitimate owners. For the first time, it's now possible to access all of the Louvre’s collections, whether they are exhibited in its halls, on deposit in other institutions or in reserve, in one place.
Designed also for researchers, the website serves as a database equipped with multiple entry points into the collections. Items can be found via simple or advanced search and be sorted by department, date and thematic albums. An interactive map can be used to navigate the Louvre room-by-room to attain more of a virtual viewing experience.
"Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known," said the museum’s president and director Jean-Luc Martinez in a statement.
"For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage."
"The Louvre's stunning cultural heritage is all now just a click away!" he added. "I am sure that this digital content is going to further inspire people to come to the Louvre to discover the collections in person."
The website will be updated by experts, reflecting the progress of research as the records expand and evolve.
The Louvre still remains closed to visitors, as per the French government’s Covid lockdown measures, but is making the most of it by carrying out long-planned renovations.
View The Louvre's artworks here.