The Louvre makes its entire collection viewable online


This ought to make Mona Lisa smile.

The largest art museum in the world is now viewable in its entirety online.

Paris’ Louvre Museum may currently be closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but now, every single piece can be experienced virtually. The institution has digitized the entirety of its more than 480,000-piece collection on its website.

This includes works that would not even be viewable to most museum visitors, including pieces that are on long-term loans abroad, in storage or otherwise not currently on display. It also includes works that were recovered following World War II and are pending return to their legitimate owners.

“Today, the Louvre unveils its treasures, even the most unknown,” said Louvre director and president Jean-Luc Martinez in a press release. “For the first time, everyone will be able, free of charge, from their computer or smartphone, to access all of the works kept by the Louvre.”

This picture shows the Apollon Gallery on January 14, 2020 at the Louvre museum in Paris after the reopening of the gallery following ten months of renovations.
AFP via Getty Images

Martinez believes that making the “beauty of our heritage” being just “a click away” will increase the museum’s physical foot traffic and in-person audience. Those who experience the art online will be more motivated “to discover the works in their materiality.”

Having the works so easily accessible is also a huge boon for art scholars, anyone looking to make virtual reference to a specific work or art fans who can’t make it to Paris right now — for understandable reasons.

A picture taken on January 8, 2021 at the Louvre Museum in Paris shows “The Raft of the Medusa”, painted by Theodore Gericault in the “Salle Mollien” (Mollien room), as the Museum remains closed due to the pandemic.
AFP via Getty Images

The online archives are formatted as two separate experiences, one more straightforward and the other offering a “more immersive” way to experience the art.

A variety of inline search functions allow visitors to search the collection by department, theme or explore the museum as it exists in reality, room by room.

The new, digital experience will “continue to evolve,” the release promises, as the museum’s staff continues to further research the art and update the online archives with their findings.

The real-world Louvre is house in a former French palace and boasts relics from a span of nearly 10,000 years of human history.


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