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Louvre, becoming a constant through the ages

The Louvre was founded in 1793 and its historical events are completely intertwined with those of France and the transformations that, over the centuries, the country has undergone. The building that houses the museum was founded in the late twelfth century and its medieval establishment has suffered profound changes under a system of successive eras.
- The idea of a 'palace of the Muses' was born under the reign of Louis XV (1715-1774). A place to gather and present the royal collections to the public, an idea that took shape during the reign of Louis XVI (1774 -1792), and in 1784 the painter Hubert Robert, head of the collections of the King, is in charge of its construction.
- After the French Revolution, a committee of artists was preparing the opening of the Musée Central des Arts. It was inaugurated in the summer of 1793 under the Convention. The most prestigious works of art belonging to the princely collections, churches and convents, were the plunder of the victorious armies of the Republic and then of the Empire. The Italian masterpieces and the large number of objects arriving in Paris in July 1798, required a reorganization of the museum, opened in 1800, which, under the direction of Vivant Denon, was named the Musée Napoleon (1803-1815). But most of the splendid spoils of war, after restoration, went back to their countries of origin.
- The dismantling of the Musée Napoléon was not a disaster. After that, the collections began to depend directly on the civil list. The sum paid annually to the king, Louis XVIII, maintained a number of works seized in the homes of migrants and in the churches and the museum was considered a major national institution.
- In 1824: Renaissance and contemporary sculptures are acquired;
- In 1826: Egyptian works are collected by Jean-François Champollion;
- In 1847 the Spanish collection of Louis Philippe and Assyrian antiquities from the excavations of Paul-Emile Botta.
- In 1848, the Second Republic, proposes to make the Louvre a 'People's Palace' devoted to sciences and the arts and which includes the museum, the National Library and some exhibition halls. The Second Empire acquires collections of Etruscan art works, of ancient Greece and ancient East.
- From 1852 to 1870, the Louvre is inserted into the urban context thanks to the arrangement of the city done by Baron Haussmann.
- In 1857 the new Louvre is built and the two symmetrical buildings, between which the Cour Napoléon opens, are connected to the north by a complex of buildings that close the quadrangle. Vast halls are set up in the enormous complex and are dedicated to painting. Major acquisitions are made.
- In 1863, one hundred panels of Italian origin from fourteenth and fifteenth century are entering the Louvre, with the purchase of the Campana collection.
- In 1869, the legacy of the La Caze collection brings a large number of French works of art from the seventeenth and especially eighteenth century. Schools recently rediscovered or which have always been appreciated, are integrated with new developments: Spanish, English, Italian paintings from the eighteenth century fatten the priceless collection.
- From 1870 to 1944, the Third Republic will cease the existence of a museum that depends on the civil list of the sovereign, making it a national museum.
- During the nineteenth century, the attention of the conservatives is directed almost exclusively to national paintings and only at the end of the century, the orientation will change with the purchase of works by European and American artists, which are now exhibited at the Musée d'Orsay.
- During the twentieth century, the expansion of the Louvre has been constant. The growth of the collections through new acquisitions has gone hand in hand with the renovation of the museums and exhibitions.
- In the seventies, the increase in visitors and in the works on display made it necessary to transfer the works from the time after 1848, to the Musée d'Orsay, opened in 1986 on the opposite bank of the Seine.
The Louvre had to undergo a radical transformation as well, in order to facilitate the access to a greater number of visitors, as possible, and to create avant-garde structures for the museums.
- In 1984, the general reorganization of the halls culminates with the start of work on the Grand Louvre.
This project, ended at the beginning of the new millennium, has reclassified the entire area, extending over more than forty hectares, of which about sixty thousand square meters are occupied by showrooms. The areas for technical, scientific and administrative services were quintupled, and those designed for the reception services for visitors have been increased by thirteen times.
The Grand Louvre is truly a world heritage site.

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