Two Centuries as a Museum

Hubert Robert
Project for transformation of the "Grande Galerie" of the Louvre, in 1796
Canvas - H 1,12 m; W 1,4 m

The Louvre was not in any way originally intended to become a museum. The "salle des antiques" which Henri VI set up on the ground floor of the Grande Galerie was not accessible to the general public, nor was the king's cabinet of drawings, created in 1671, or the king's cabinet of paintings, to which access was reserved for a privileged few.

From the date when, under Louis XIV, most of its occupants left the Louvre, its vocation as a "palace of the arts" appeared a quite natural progression in the eyes of the resident artists and the academies. The idea of a Palace of the Muses or "Muséum", where one could view the royal collections, was born in 1747. The museum concept, which was quite new at the time, ran along the same lines as the Encyclopedia and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. From 1779, purchases and museographical projects demonstrate the imminence of its realisation.

The Museum of the Revolution and the "Musée Napoléon"
The Restoration and the "Musée Charles-X"
The "Nouveau Louvre" during the Second Empire
The "Musée des Républiques"
Renovations of the "Grand Louvre"

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