Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Most-Visited Art Museums

The top five most-visited museums in 2008 were:

1. Louvre, Paris
2. British Museum, London
3. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
4. Tate Modern, London
5. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The most-visited museum:

The Musée du Louvre or officially the Grand Louvre — in English, the Louvre Museum or Great Louvre, or simply the Louvre — is the national museum of France, the most visited museum in the world, and a historic monument.

It is a central landmark of Paris, located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement (neighbourhood). Nearly 35,000 objects from the 6th century BC to the 19th century are exhibited over an area of 60,600 square metres (652,300 square feet).

Historical facts:

The museum opened on 10 August 1793 with an exhibition of 537 paintings, the majority of the works being confiscated church and royal property. Because of structural problems with the building, the museum was closed in 1796 until 1801.

The size of the collection increased under Napoleon when the museum was renamed the Musée Napoléon. After his defeat at Waterloo, many works seized by Napoleon's armies were returned to their original owners.

The collection was further increased during the reigns of Louis XVIII and Charles X, and during the Second Empire the museum gained 20,000 pieces. Holdings have grown steadily through donations and gifts since the Third Republic, except during the two World Wars.

As of 2008, the collection is divided among eight curatorial departments: Egyptian Antiquities; Near Eastern Antiquities; Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities; Islamic Art; Sculpture; Decorative Arts; Paintings; and Prints and Drawings.

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