The Louvre Paris Facts For An Essay

The Louvre Pyramid (Pyramide du Louvre) is a large glass and metal pyramid designed by Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei, surrounded by three smaller pyramids, in the main courtyard (Cour Napoléon) of the Louvre Palace (Palais du Louvre) in Paris. The large pyramid serves as the main entrance to the Louvre Museum. Completed in 1989,[1] it has become a landmark of the city of Paris.

Design and construction[edit]

Commissioned by the President of France, François Mitterrand, in 1984, it was designed by the architect I. M. Pei. The structure, which was constructed entirely with glass segments and metal poles, reaches a height of 21.6 metres (71 ft).[2] Its square base has sides of 34 metres (112 ft) and a base surface area of 1,000 square metres (11,000 sq ft).[3] It consists of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments.[2] The pyramid structure was engineered by Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd. of Montreal (Pyramid Structure / Design Consultant) and Rice Francis Ritchie of Paris (Pyramid Structure / Construction Phase).[4]

The pyramid and the underground lobby beneath it were created because of a series of problems with the Louvre's original main entrance, which could no longer handle the enormous number of visitors on an everyday basis.[citation needed] Visitors entering through the pyramid descend into the spacious lobby then ascend into the main Louvre buildings.[citation needed]

For design historian Mark Pimlott, "I.M. Pei’s plan distributes people effectively from the central concourse to myriad destinations within its vast subterranean network... the architectonic framework evokes, at gigantic scale, an ancient atrium of a Pompeiian villa; the treatment of the opening above, with its tracery of engineered castings and cables, evokes the atria of corporate office buildings; the busy movement of people from all directions suggests the concourses of rail termini or international airports."[5]

Several other museums have duplicated this concept, most notably the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. The Dolphin Centre, featuring a similar pyramid, was opened in April 1982, by Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.[6] The construction work on the pyramid base and underground lobby was carried out by the Vinci construction company.[7]


In 1839, according to one newspaper account, in ceremonies commemorating the "glorious revolution" of 1830, "The tombs of the Louvre were covered with black hangings and adorned with tricolored flags. In front and in the middle was erected an expiatory monument of a pyramidical shape, and surmounted by a funeral vase."[8]


The construction of the pyramid triggered many years of strong and lively aesthetic and political debate.[9] Criticisms tended to fall into four areas: (1) the modernist style of the edifice being inconsistent with the classic French Renaissance style and history of the Louvre; (2) the pyramid being an unsuitable symbol of death from ancient Egypt; (3) the project being an immodest, pretentious, megalomaniacal folly imposed by then-President Francois Mitterrand; and (4) Chinese-American architect I.M. Pei being insufficiently French to be entrusted with the task of updating the treasured Parisian landmark.[10]

Those criticizing the aesthetics said it was "sacrilegious" to tamper with the Louvre's majestic old French Renaissance architecture, and called the pyramid an anachronistic intrusion of an Egyptian death symbol in the middle of Paris.[11] Meanwhile, political critics referred to the structure as Pharaoh Francois' Pyramid.[10] Many still continue to feel the harsh modernism of the edifice is out of place.[12][13][14]

During the design phase, there was a proposal[by whom?] that the design include a spire on the pyramid to simplify window washing. Pei objected, however, and this proposal was eliminated.

Urban legend of 666 panes[edit]

It has been claimed by some that the glass panes in the Louvre Pyramid number exactly 666, "the number of the beast", often associated with Satan. Dominique Stezepfandt's book François Mitterrand, Grand Architecte de l'Univers declares that "the pyramid is dedicated to a power described as the Beast in the Book of Revelation (...) The entire structure is based on the number 6."

The story of the 666 panes originated in the 1980s, when the official brochure published during construction did indeed cite this number (even twice, though a few pages earlier the total number of panes was given as 672 instead). The number 666 was also mentioned in various newspapers. The Louvre museum, however, states that the finished pyramid contains 673 glass panes (603 rhombi and 70 triangles).[2] A higher figure was obtained by David A. Shugarts, who reports that the pyramid contains 689 pieces of glass.[15] Shugarts obtained the figure from the Pei's offices.

Elementary arithmetic allows for easy counting of the panes: each of the three sides of the pyramid without an entrance has 18 triangular panes and 17 rows of rhombic ones arranged in a triangle, thus giving rhombic panes (171 panes total). The side with the entrance has 11 panes fewer (9 rhombic, 2 triangular), so the whole pyramid consists of rhombi and triangles, 673 panes total.

The myth resurfaced in 2003, when Dan Brown incorporated it in his best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code, in which the protagonist reflects that "this pyramid, at President Mitterrand's explicit demand, had been constructed of exactly 666 panes of glass — a bizarre request that had always been a hot topic among conspiracy buffs who claimed 666 was the number of Satan."[16] However, David A. Shugarts reports that according to a spokeswoman of the offices of Pei, the French President never specified the number of panes to be used in the pyramid. Noting how the 666 rumor circulated in some French newspapers in the mid-1980s, she commented: "If you only found those old articles and didn't do any deeper fact checking, and were extremely credulous, you might believe the 666 story."[15]

La Pyramide Inversée[edit]

Main article: La Pyramide Inversée

La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) is a skylight in the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall in front of the Louvre Museum. It looks like an upside-down and smaller version of the Louvre Pyramid.


Designed for a museum that attracted 4.5 million visitors a year, the pyramid proved inadequate by the time the Louvre's attendance had doubled in 2014. Between 2014 and 2017, the layout of the foyer area in the Cour Napoleon beneath the glass pyramid is undergoing a thorough redesign, including better access to the pyramid and the Passage Richelieu.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Simons, Marlise (28 March 1993). "5 Pieces of Europe's Past Return to Life: France; A vast new exhibition space as the Louvre renovates". The New York times. Retrieved 7 October 2008. 
  2. ^ abc"Architecture: Louvre Pyramid". Glass on the Web. June 2005. Archived from the original on 12 January 2002. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  3. ^Official Press Release, Louvre. ""Pyramid" Project Launch: The Musée du Louvre is improving visitor reception (2014-2016)"(PDF). Louvre. p. 10. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  4. ^"Grand Louvre: Phase I". Pei Cobb Freed & Partners. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  5. ^Pimlott, Mark (2007). "The Grand Louvre & I.M. Pei". Without and Within: Essays on Territory and the Interior (Excerpt). Rotterdam: Episode Publishers. Retrieved 13 August 2012 – via artdesigncafe. 
  6. ^Steer, Phil. "Dolphin Centre: Brief History". Romford Now & Then. Archived from the original on 23 November 2011. [self-published source]
  7. ^"History". Vinci. Archived from the original on 1 October 2011. Retrieved 16 January 2011. 
  8. ^"The Paris Sketch Book Of Mr. M. A. Titmarsh". Project Gutenberg. 
  9. ^Tempest, Rone. "Controversial New Pyramid Entrance to the Louvre Opens in Paris". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  10. ^ abBernstein, Richard. "I.M. Pei's Pyramid: A Provocative Plan for The Louvre". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  11. ^Goldberger, Paul. "Pei Pyramid and New Louvre Open Today". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  12. ^Stamberg, Susan. "Landmark At The Louvre: The Pyramid Turns 20". NPR. National Public Radio. Retrieved 16 May 2016. ,
  13. ^Carbone, Ken. "Viva Le Louvre! At 20, I.M. Pei's Controversial Pyramid Defies Critics". Fast Company. Mansueto Ventures, LLC. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  14. ^Souza, Eduardo. "AD Classics: Le Grande Louvre / I.M. Pei". Arch Daily. Plataforma Networks Broadcasting Architecture Worldwide. Retrieved 16 May 2016. 
  15. ^ abSecrets of the Code, edited by Dan Burstein, p. 259.[full citation needed]
  16. ^Dan Brown. The Da Vinci Code, p. 21.[full citation needed]
  17. ^Pes, Javier (28 April 2014). "Louvre's Director Makes Unblocking Pyramid Bottleneck a Priority". The Art Newspaper. Archived from the original on 29 April 2014. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 48°51′39″N2°20′09″E / 48.860854°N 2.335812°E / 48.860854; 2.335812

Inside the Pyramid: the view of the Louvre Museum in Paris from the underground lobby of the pyramid.
The large glass pyramid seen at night
The large glass pyramid seen by day
Comparison of approximate profiles of the Louvre Pyramid with other notable pyramidal or near-pyramidal buildings. Dotted lines indicate original heights, where data are available. In its SVG file, hover over a pyramid to highlight and click for its article.

The Louvre Museum In Paris – What To See & How To See It

From Leonardo da Vinci to the Venus de Milo, the Louvre Museum in Paris has the most extensive art collection in the world. The Louvre covers more than 2,000 years of art history going back to the ancient civilizations and the birth of art as we know it. You'll see the French masters as well as masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance. You'll even get to view the royal crowns of French emperors and kings.

With so much to see, a visit to the the Louvre art museum can be overwhelming, so it's good to plan your visit beforehand, especially since the line-ups are always very long. That's the first thing we'll focus on here — figuring out how to avoid standing in line for hours. Then we'll talk about the artwork you don't want to miss, a little history of the Louvre, and the practical information you'll need. Let's start with those lines —

How Can You Avoid the Lines at the Louvre?

You should know by now that we hate standing in lines, and one of the main aspects to our Paris planning is figuring out how to avoid them. This is an important thing to think about at the Louvre — it gets nearly 10 million visitors every year, so you know there is always going to be a line to contend with. Let's look at some options.

Louvre Skip-the-Line Tours

In addition to hating lineups, we love guided tours, especially in museums. Especially in crowded museums! Since we started signing up for guided tours we've learned so much more, we've saved time, and we've had more fun. We're converts. But remember, these tours tend to sell out, so be sure to book early.

The Top 3 Louvre Skip-the-Line Tours

The Paris Museum Pass

One of our most appreciated pieces of advice is to get ahold of the Paris Museum Pass. This gets you free entrance to 60 museums, including the Louvre. More importantly to us, it lets you skip the ticket lines. There's more information in our review of the Paris Pass, including the best way to buy the pass.

paris museum pass information

Buy Tickets in Advance

You can book your tickets in advance and have them waiting for you at your Paris hotel. The only disadvantage to this method is that you have to be absolutely sure of the date of your visit.

Order Your Ticket in Advance

Masterpieces of the Louvre You Shouldn't Miss

Among the thousands of works at the Musée de Louvre you're sure to recognize quite a few. Some of the most famous paintings and sculptures ever produced have found their way into the permanent collection of this museum. To help with your planning we've put together a guide of some of the best works of art in the Louvre.

Guide to Masterpieces of the Louvre

The 8 Departments of the Louvre Museum

Like so many French museums, the Louvre's website is as rambling and as hard to navigate as the museum itself. But, don't worry. We're going to give you a few short lessons on how the museum is organized. We'll also include some helpful highlights, history, and tips for each of the departments of the museum.

In short, the Louvre museum collections are grouped into eight curatorial departments. Take a peek into each department to help you map out your day at the museum —

  1. Egyptian Antiquities…
  2. Greek & Roman Art…
  3. Near Eastern Antiquities…
  4. Paintings…
  5. Islamic Art…
  6. Sculptures…
  7. Decorative Arts…
  8. Prints & Drawings…

History of the Louvre – Fortress, Palace & Museum

The history of the Louvre is as fascinating as the story of the works of art it contains. The Louvre started life as a fortress, in the 12th Century, and then later was used as the royal residence for centuries of French kings. It lasted through revolutions, wars, occupations and long periods of housing government bureaucrats to become the famous art museum it is today.

Learn About the History of the Louvre

The Louvre Pyramid

Yes, the Louvre has certainly seen plenty of changes over the centuries. But some of the most striking and extensive changes to the museum occurred in the late 20th century, with the complete renovation of the building and the addition of the Louvre Pyramids to the courtyard. Learn more about the story behind this latest Paris icon.

Learn About the Louvre Pyramid

Where to Eat at the Louvre

Looking at forty centuries of magnificent art makes us… hungry. So, when we're going to spend a long day at a museum as important and as large as the Louvre, we want to make sure we know what to do when we get hungry. Because it's in Paris, you can be sure that there will be at least a couple of good dining choices at the Louvre. In fact, we review 7 or 8 restaurants and cafes found in and near the museum, and we reveal our faves.

Where To Eat At The Louvre

The New, Improved Louvre

The good news is that the Louvre is infusing €60 million to revamp its entrance and ticket areas. Jean-Luc Martinez, the new director of the Louvre, wants to ensure that the Louvre remains accessible and up to date. Can believe that in 1989 a mere 3 million visitors made their way to the Louvre. By 2015 that number more than tripled to 9.8 million.

Monsieur-Director Martinez is also creating a rotating educational center and has an ambitious plan to translate almost 40,000 art display descriptions into English. There will also be WIFI downloadable explanations in other languages. Another bold move is his fundraising plan, which include crowd-sourced funding. The Louvre is hoping to raise €1 million from the public to restore the Nike of Samothrace and its connecting Daru staircase.

In an effort to save money Martinez will reduce the number of temporary exhibitions from 20 to 10 annually, focusing on shows that reinforce their amazing permanent collection.

Go Local at Café Marly

After a visit to the museum we like to take in the view of the Louvre pyramid from a table in the colonnade at Café Marly. It's great to enjoy a glass of champagne with Parisians while overlooking the courtyard of this most famous of museums. We don't recommend Marly as a lunch or dinner place, but it's great for a glass of bubbly.

It's hard to believe that until relatively recently, the courtyard was used as a parking lot for the bureaucrats who worked at to government offices that used to be houses in the Louvre!

Louvre Facts

The Louvre started rather modestly back in the twelfth century. In the 900 years since then it has seen a lot, and now it's the most popular museum in the world with nearly 10 million visitors every year.

  • The Louvre collection includes more than 380,000 pieces.
  • 35,000 works are displayed at the museum at any given time.
  • There are 4,000 paintings by French artists.
  • The museum's oldest collections are from the ancient civilizations in Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • The exhibition area is over 650,000 square feet.
  • In addition to the art, you'll also find classes of French school children learning about art in the Louvre. (Most of the rest of us had to settle for images in books!)

Practical Information

Looking for a shorter line-up? Use the Galerie du Carrousel entrance to the Louvre. Take the stairs found in the Tuileries, near the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

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