While countries around the world continue to roll out the COVID-19 vaccines that will ultimately help to reopen borders for international travel, your dreams of making it over to Paris for summer may still be just that in 2021: a dream.
You may have to wait a little longer to nibble on a crepe by the fountain at the Jardin des Tuileries, but the opportunity to peruse the prolific art collections at the Musée du Louvre has arrived a little sooner. Now, to be exact.
For the first time in history, the complete collection of art, sculpture and historical artefact within the Louvre is available to be viewed virtually. And entirely for free.
“Today, the Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known,” Jean-Luc Martinez, the president and director of the Louvre, said in a statement. “For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free, whether they are on display in the museum, on loan, even long-term, or in storage.”
In many ways, online art appreciators are able to see even more than real-life gallery-goers. More than 482,000 works can be viewed and appreciated, including those currently hanging on the walls as well as works from the Musée National Eugène-Delacroix, sculptures in the Tuileries and Carrousel gardens, and pieces at the Musées Nationaux Récupération, which were recovered after WWII and entrusted to the Louvre.
Browsers can view the Louvre’s works by category or by curated collections, searching directly for the pieces they may recognise or by walking virtually through an interactive map of the historic building.
Once presented with an artwork, you’ll be able to read more about the history and making of the item in either French or English, and you won’t have to battle the crowds or risk getting sore feet while doing so.
While France still very much deals with the pandemic and its impacts to the art and culture scene (the Lourve is currently closed, as it was for much of 2020), seeing the gallery and collections online feels like a favourable alternative to a real-life visit.