The Louvre is the largest museum of art in the world and is located in Paris, France. The museum is a central landmark of the city and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe, regularly attracting millions of visitors each year. The museum displays approximately 38,000 objects from prehistory through to modern day over an area of over 70,000 square metres.
The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, a site that was built as a castle under Philip II. It is possible to see remnants of the original fortress in the basement of the museum, although due to urban expansion the fortress is no longer suitable as a defensible position. The building has been expanded a number of times throughout its history in order to house the number of objects that have only continued to increase throughout history. The prime function of the site has changed a number of times over the centuries, being used by French monarchs as a primary abode as well as a primary base for French scholars during the 17th century.
The museum was first opened to select members of the public on the 10th of August 1793 with 537 paintings on display. The majority of the works were owned by royalty and many had been confiscated from churches across France and Europe. The curation process has not always been legitimate. Notably, Napoleon and his army were well known for plundering art from territories that they had conquered, although after Napoleon’s abdication much of the art was eventually returned to the rightful owners. Currently, the collection is divided across eight different departments, each focusing on a particular period of both history and object type, such as some departments focusing exclusively on paintings and some on sculptures. This is important due to the particular skills needed to maintain the different pieces.