The Musée du Louvre in Paris houses an estimated 380,000 items and 35,000 works of art in 652,300 square feet of space. The museum opened on Aug. 10, 1793, but was closed between 1796 and 1801 because of structural problems. It began its life as a fortress built by Philip II in the 12th century, was converted into a residence by Charles V in the 14th century, and renovated in the French Renaissance style by Francis I in 1546. Francis’ artistic acquisitions include Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.” It was transformed into a public museum during the French Revolution.
The museum is divided into eight cultural compartments: Egyptian antiquities; Near-Eastern antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman antiquities; Islamic art; Sculpture, Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings. Of these, the Islamic art is the newest department. The museum draws more than eight million visitors a year. Admission to the museum can cost between six and 14 euros per day.
The museum has been at the center of some controversy regarding specific pieces of artwork that were seized by Napoleon during his campaigns, and now participates in arbitration sessions to determine who rightfully owns the artwork. In 2009 McDonald’s found a home in the museum’s shopping area.
Besides guided tours the museum offers workshops for participants to study artistic techniques and civilizations, as well as learn more about the space’s collections.