Friday, April 9, 2010

France's Louvre Museum

The Palais du Louvre is a complex of buildings added on to the first structure, which was started in 1546 by architect Pierre Lescot under King Francois I. Other parts of the Louvre were built by rulers such as Henri IV, who built the Grand Galerie, and Catherine de Medici, who built the Tuileries. The Louvre was the royal headquarters in Paris until Louis XIV built Versailles in 1682. Although he disliked the Louvre, Louis XIV's chief minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, advised the King to build public buildings, so Louis created the Place du Carrousel. Louis also asked Le Vau, the architect who would later create Versailles, to design new buildings for the Cour Carree part of the Louvre. For the eastern facade, Le Vau, the Italian architect, Bernini, and the King's architect, Jules Hardouin Mansart all submitted designs, but were rejected. In the end, an unknown designer, Claude Perrault, was chosen. Although Perrault was only an amateur architect, his design impressed Colbert, and the eastern facade was completed in 1670. After the French Revolution, the Louvre was turned into the national gallery of France, and was added onto by both Napoleon I and Napoleon III.During the Paris Commune of 1871, the part of the Louvre built by Catherine de Medici, the Tuileries, was destroyd. In the 1980's, the French President Francois Mitterand asked Ieoh Ming Pei to reinvent the Louvre to accommodate the many visitors of the great building, so Pei added some pyramids in the middle of the complex, the main pyramid used as an entrance, the centerpiece of an underground entrance complex, and giving natural light to the underground levels. The Louvre now is one of the most famous and visited museums in the world. The Louvre now contains the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, the Mona Lisa, a coffee shop, and 4+ gift shops.

Information from...
The World's Greatest Buildings
Consultant Editor: Trevor Howells and...
The Greatest Buildings of the World
Editor: Kelly Knauer