As doors to the Louvre in Paris remain closed, last week it was announced that the museum will be making available its entire art collection online — including works that are on display, on loan or in storage. The new digital platform has been made available to the public and already contains 482,000 entries — about 75% of the museum’s entire collection.
The entries that have been made available include works from eight of the Louvre’s departments, works from the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix as well as sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens.
The collection also includes works from the Musées Nationaux Récupération (National Museums Recovery), which includes art that may have been plundered, either by Nazis or colonial authorities, and recovered after World War 2. These artworks have been entrusted to the Louvre until they can be returned to their legitimate owners.
“Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known”, said Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director of the Musée du Louvre, as part of the announcement. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free … the Louvre’s stunning cultural heritage is all now just a click away!”
While major institutions such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the British Museum in London and the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam have been digitising their collections for years, the move by the Louvre was no small feat.
According to the museum, each entry contains detailed data about the artwork, including the title of the work, the artist, inventory number, materials and techniques, date and place of production, dimensions, history and current location. The database will also be updated regularly to reflect advances in research.
Visitors looking to explore the site can search the collection by curatorial departments, categories or themed albums such as masterpieces or new acquisitions. An interactive map even allows visitors to explore the museum room by room — almost as one would in real life.
“I am sure that this digital content is going to further inspire people to come to the Louvre to discover the collections in person,” Martinez added.
As the most visited museum in the world, the Louvre received 9.6-million visitors in 2019. When the world all but shut down in 2020, the Louvre received 21-million visitors on its website, prompting an upgrade that coincides with the launch of its online collection.
According to the museum, its new website “is designed to stay in synch with the Louvre as the museum develops more digital content”.