After longtime closure, the Louvre’s entire art collection can be seen from your fingertips.
The Louvre experienced a 72 percent drop in visitors in 2020 with only 2.7 million people visiting versus 9.6 million in 2019. However, 21 million people visited the Louvre’s website in 2020 according to Smithsonian magazine.
An online platform has been released by the French museum consisting of more than 480,000 pieces of art that can be seen for free according to CNN. This website showcases artwork from the Louvre’s eight departments, ranging from Egyptian antiquities to Renaissance sculptures.
“Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” says Jean-Luc Martinez, the president and director of the Louvre, 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.”
Rare items in storage including the Venus de Milo and Winged Victory of Samothrace statues can be viewed. Even though the digital database is free to browse, users cannot directly download, share, or reuse the images.
Art can be searched for through simple or advanced searches, entries by the curatorial department, or themed albums. The website also has an interactive map that allows people to explore the museum by looking at artwork room by room.
“The Louvre’s stunning cultural heritage is all now just a click away,” Martinez says. “I am sure that this digital content is going to further inspire people to come to the Louvre to discover the collections in person.”
This online archive includes 61,000 works stolen by Nazis and brought back to France after World War II. Thankfully 45,000 of those pieces have been returned to their rightful owners. According to the Smithsonian magazine, 2,143 works were unclaimed and categorized as National Museum Recovery and entrusted to French cultural institutions, including the Louvre, for safekeeping.
A wartime derivation research project was started in January 2020 after hiring curator Emmanuelle Polack. The goal is to identify which items in the Louvre’s collections were obtained through looting or colonial violence.
Other pieces from countries formerly under French control such as Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, and Lebanon are also under investigation. The information collected will eventually be debuted on the Louvre’s website.
Although the Louvre is still closed to visitors due to the pandemic, history is right at our fingertips. Museum experts will update the online database, which can be viewed here, regularly as the museum’s collection slowly expands.