Paris' Famed Louvre Museum Digitizes Half a Million Pieces — and 'Anyone Can Access' the Art

The Louvre has been closed since October due to COVID, but visitors can now visit — for free! — from the comfort of their own homes

Louvre Museum
Louvre Museum. Photo: Kiran Ridley/Getty

The pandemic may have closed the doors of Paris' Musée de Louvre, but the famed museum will soon have more visitors than ever thanks to the magic of the internet.

The Louvre announced last week that its storied collection of more than 480,000 items will be made available online for art lovers and history buffs to explore from the comfort of their own homes — for free!

"The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known," Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum's president and director, said 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."

Those who want to pay the Louvre a virtual visit can search items by department or theme, and there's also an interactive map available to explore the building room by room.

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Each item includes information such as title, artist and date and place of production, and works are from not only the Louvre itself, but other locations that have lent the museum items on a long-term loan, including the British Museum and the archaeological museum of Heraklion.

Other items include sculptures from the Tuileries Garden and National Museums Recovery works, which were recovered in Germany following World War II.

"The entries in the Collections database, updated daily based on input from management and documentation services, are written by a team of experts from the Louvre," the museum's website — which received 21 million visitors in 2020 — says.

The updated virtual visits have been designed for use on smartphones, and are available in French, English, Spanish and Chinese.

The nearly 500,000 digitized items up for viewing represent about three-quarters of the Louvre's entire archive, according to NPR.

"It helps you see things you might not otherwise. It helps you find surprises," Suse Anderson, a professor of museum studies at George Washington University, told NPR. "And that's where I think you often get the connection to your own life, is when you find something that resonates, that isn't the thing you went looking for."

The Louvre has been closed due to COVID concerns since October, and is currently undergoing long-awaited renovations, CNN reported.

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