“Collections” is the French museum's new initiative to digitize its 200-year history
If you head to the Louvre's website right now, you will encounter the following message, "The Musée du Louvre remains closed until further notice." But while the French museum has closed its doors in the real world, it has thrown them wide open online. Since March 26th, this year, people all over the world have been granted access to a digital database compiling over 480,000 artworks, known as the “Collections” initiative. A revolutionary move that helps to make art history more accessible to all.
While it was already possible to visit the museum virtually, the newly configured louvre.fr site now gives you first-hand access to all of the documentation compiled by the Louvre's curators for each piece. This means having access to 480,000 entries, including the images and objective details.
This database not only includes information about works on display but also grants access to works that are on loan to other institutions or in storage, making the project very unique. They will also grant access to 2000 Nazi-looted artworks that are in the process of being returned to their original owners’ families.
The Louvre in 2020: open for just 161 days out of 311
Works like the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, and The Mona Lisa were not in total isolation during lockdown. With the museum shuttered, from March 14 to June 6, it offered the public access to a selection of content and virtual visits of some rooms last year.
After overcoming its longest closure since World War II, the most visited museum in the world adjusted to the new normality (it received 2.7 million visitors in 2020 ). The museum was open over the summer season. However, this did not last long: on October 20th, it was forced to close again.
Inside the museum, individuals have stayed active and continued to look after the space, adding new embellishments, dusting frames, or putting up descriptive plaques, ensuring that it is ready to welcome visitors from around the world when the day finally comes.
As the Louvre explains on its website, they are preparing to open renovated rooms ahead of summer 2021. It has also announced that new exhibitions are scheduled to open later this year: "A Romantic Duel: Lord Byron's Giaour de Delacroix" at the Musée Delacroix in spring; "Paris-Athens, the Birth of Modern Greece (1675-1919)" at the Louvre in fall; and "Theater Costumes from the Edmond de Rothschild Collection."
Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of the Louvre, considers the museum to have a clear mission: "to make beauty, which is beyond human understanding, accessible to all." Now, thanks to Collections, which not only shares that beauty but also invites us to traverse more than 200 years of history.
Have you visited the Louvre from home? What do you think of this new initiative? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
English version by @eloise_edgington.
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