On a given trip to the Louvre in Paris, you can see only a fraction of its collection. The grande dame of museums is staggering in size and scale: about three kilometers long, if you walk its perimeter, with more than 35,000 works of art on display and 10 times as many stored. Add to that the queues, the crowds, the jostling in front of the mona-lisa, and it may take you a year to discover all the works on display. (A tour guide once estimated 200 days if you spent about 30 seconds with each piece, for Conde Nast Traveler.)
Thanks to this anti-patron saint of culture, COVID, the Louvre has been closed to the public since the end of October, but until Friday some 480,000 works of art have been digitized and put online for free for all to enjoy.
“The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the lesser-known ones,” Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of the Louvre museum, said in a statement on Friday. “For the first time, everyone can access the entire collection of works free of charge from a computer or smartphone, whether they are on display at the museum, on loan, even long-term, or on deposit.
Consider this a lesson in art history in itself: you can sort and browse by medium (sculpture, painting, textiles, etc.), artist, or eight curatorial departments (Antiquities of the Near East; Egyptian Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Paintings; Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Sculpture; Prints and Drawings; Medieval, Renaissance and Modern Decorative Arts).
You can also view dedicated albums, such as National Museums Recovery, of works recovered after World War II and awaiting return to their rightful owners. Works on loan from other French museums (such as the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Petit Palais) and international sites (such as the British Museum and the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion) will also be available.
While not quite the same as being in the shadow of the Winged Victory of Samothrace or under the gaze of the Great Sphinx of Tanis, this digital collection is a treat for art lovers, students and researchers.
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