The Louvre’s entire collection is one of the largest in the world, with approximately half a million paintings, sculptures, drawings, writings, and artifacts. They span most of recorded history, from a 9000-year-old neolithic clay figure up into the very recent 1800s (more modern works, of course, belong in the Musée d’Orsay).
The Louvre’s debut as a museum was a result of the ideals of the French Revolution, and one of the few true benefits of that period of history. It was assembled and opened in 1798 with the goal of making the works available to the common man, for the benefit of all, and it has followed those Enlightenment ideals for over 220 years.
In 2020, the pandemic forced the Louvre to close for six months, the longest it has been closed since WWII. But in the wake of this, the museum’s doors are being thrown open wider than ever before – the Louvre’s entire collection (approximately) is being made available digitally, for free, to everyone everywhere in the world.
Approximately, because even the Louvre does not know the extent of its immense collection. The official estimate is 482,000 pieces, which is how many works have been digitized, but that estimate is known to be short by about a third.
“The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” said Jean-Luc Martinez, President-Director of the Musée du Louvre, in a statement made on Friday, March 26th. “For the first time, anyone can access the Louvre’s 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.”
You can discover the works either by ‘strolling’ the Louvre yourself, through an interactive map, or by category, sortable by time, place, or artist. But don’t feel bad if you just look for your favorites – if you only spend 30 seconds looking at every piece, and never sleep, it would take over 167 days to see the entire collection.
Image credit: NavinTar / Shutterstock.com