The Musée du Louvre is one of the most visited museums in the world. Its collection includes over 35,000 works of art and more than 380,000 objects. They are all housed in multiple curatorial departments, such as the Islamic Arts, Egyptian Antiquities, and Decorative Arts.
Some of the items in the Musée du Louvre trace back to ancient times, including the New Stone Age. When on Louvre Museum private tours you can find so much of archeological treasures, different kinds of artworks, structures including the pyramids, and get a slice of history. It is a treasure trove of artworks and a majestic building, with grand staircases. No matter what interests you, there is something for you in Louvre Museum private tours. Of course, that is why millions of people take it each year and come back with truckloads of knowledge about many different things.
The Louvre Museum and its French Royal Connections
Part of what fascinates people to visit the museum in Paris city is its rich history, represented through the artworks on display and its palatial ambiance. The origin of the building, housing the museum, traces back to the late 12th Century period. Philip II of France’s engineered plan to protect the French capital with a fortification, including a defensive tower, paved way for the museum building.
It took several years for it to be used as a royal residence, though. When Napoleon Bonaparte came to power, the museum went on to become one of the largest in the world, with the arrival of new collections. The Egyptian campaigns began by Napoleon when France was embroiled in a war with those territories brought many objects to the country. The famous Rosetta Stone is one of those treasures housed in the Musée du Louvre.
The Louvre Museum during World War II
Another fascinating aspect is the history of the museum during the Second World War. Earlier in 2018, the WWII period ties of the museum came to the limelight when it exhibited Nazi-looted artworks. The museum did this to find their rightful owners.
Did you know that the Nazis looted plenty of works of art from France alone? During the WWII period, Germany even had a department devoted to looting assets of other nations it defeated. A task force was accountable to plunder artworks for the country and then confiscate them as treasuries of war. However, some evaded the Nazis’ plans with admirable resolve. The Musée du Louvre was one of them.
In the year 1940, the German army defeated the French, and Adolf Hitler rose to power. Hitler’s ruthlessness is infamous and so is his envy for art. Yet when the Nazis came to the Louvre Museum, they found only empty rooms. This was because Jacques Jaujard, the then Director of National Museums, conceived a plan to hide the collections of the former Royal Palace. He organized for the collections to disappear so that German and Vichy government authorities could not lay their hands on them.
A Big-Scale Artwork Rescue Campaign
It is nigh impossible to even think of moving thousands of pieces in the Musée du Louvre secretly. That is because the sizes of some of the items were colossal, while other pieces weighed tons. Destroying them was certainly out of the question. The plan was not done overnight. It took years for the museum collections to be dispersed across France. Most of them were secretly moved to and housed at Loire Valley’s Château de Chambord.
The actual story of the rescue of the museum collections has been a mystery, because Jaujard maintained discretion about how it was organized, in spite of its success and the key role the National Museums’ Director played for France. His experience of evacuating Spain’s Prado Museum during the Civil War and then taking the Spanish collections to Switzerland helped greatly in this regard.
The talents of Jacques Jaujard certainly lay in the kind of diplomacy with which he conceived and executed the masterful plan. He managed to not just safeguard the Louvre Museum collections with the help of accomplices, but also dupe the French government, although he was actually a civil servant. The plan was a well-kept secret and when the battle was over, the treasures of the national museum eventually came back to their rightful home.
The Louvre Pyramids
Another incident or event that played a key role in the making of the Louvre Museum to what it is today is the construction of the glass pyramids, designed by Ieoh Ming Pei. The inverted glass pyramid underneath the main one at the courtyard is cited in the Da Vinci Code movie as well. There are some facts and fictions about how it was portrayed, and you can learn that and more during your Louvre guided tour.