The Louvre or the Louvre Museum (French: Musée du Louvre) is one of the world's largest museums and a historic monument in Paris, France. A central landmark of the city, it is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement. Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet). The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, receiving more than 9.7 million visitors in 2012.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built as a fortress in the late 12th century under Philip II. Remnants of the fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace. In 1682, Louis XIV chose the Palace of Versailles for his household, leaving the Louvre primarily as a place to display the royal collection, including, from 1692, a collection of ancient Greek and Roman sculpture. In 1692, the building was occupied by the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture, which in 1699 held the first of a series of salons. The Académie remained at the Louvre for 100 years. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decreed that the Louvre should be used as a museum to display the nation's masterpieces.
The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being royal and confiscated church property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801. The collection was increased under Napoleon and the museum renamed the Musée Napoléon, but after Napoleon's abdication many works seized by his armies were returned to their original owners. The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second French Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and bequests since the Third Republic. The collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; Prints and Drawings.
In 1983, French President François Mitterrand proposed, as one of his Grands Projets, the Grand Louvre plan to renovate the building and relocate the Finance Ministry, allowing displays throughout the building. Architect I. M. Pei was awarded the project and proposed a glass pyramid to stand over a new entrance in the main court, the Cour Napoléon. The pyramid and its underground lobby were inaugurated on 15 October 1988; the pyramid was completed in 1989. The second phase of the Grand Louvre plan, La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid), was completed in 1993. As of 2002, attendance had doubled since completion.
The Louvre can be reached by the Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre Métro or the Louvre-Rivoli stations. The Louvre has three entrances: the main entrance at the pyramid, an entrance from the Carrousel du Louvre underground shopping mall, and an entrance at the Porte des Lions (near the western end of the Denon wing).
The use of cameras and video recorders is permitted inside, but flash photography is forbidden.