Louvre digitizes over 480,000 pieces of art, makes them free to view online

The Louvre announced it has digitized more than 480,000 pieces of art, allowing anyone with a smartphone or a computer to enjoy the museum’s collections without booking a ticket to Paris.

Some of the Louvre’s most famous pieces of art will be viewable online completely free of charge, according to a March 26 news release.

"Today, the Louvre unveils its treasures, even the most unknown," Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of the Louvre museum, said.


FILE - A picture taken on Jan. 8, 2021 at the Louvre Museum in Paris shows the empty "Grande Gallerie", as the Museum remains closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Art enthusiasts will be able to access thousands of pieces in the Louvre’s online archive. The museum will allow access to view pieces that are not only on display in the museum itself, but may have otherwise been in storage, on loan, or on deposit, according to the Louvre.

The Louvre estimates that about 482,000 pieces of art belonging to France’s national collections are accessible through its digitized collection database, collections.louvre.fr, but that’s only three-quarters of the entire archive.

The website was also recently revamped to allow translations in Spanish, English and Chinese for international visitors.

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The digital archive is categorized by the type of art that is featured, and includes jewelry, sculptures and textiles. The website also allows extensive and detailed searches for anyone looking for a particular piece of art, as well as full-text descriptions of each piece.

"The beauty of our heritage is just a click away. I am convinced that this digital development will further increase the desire of our audiences to physically come to the Palais to discover the works in their materiality," Martinez said.

It’s uncertain when the famed Paris museum will reopen, after being closed to the public on Oct. 30 in line with the French government’s COVID-19 containment measures.

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Before the pandemic, staff walked out, complaining they couldn’t handle the overcrowding with 30,000-40,000 visitors a day.

The forced closure granted museum officials a golden opportunity to carry out long-overdue refurbishments that were simply not possible with nearly 10 million visitors a year. Unlike the first lockdown, which brought all Louvre activities to a halt, the second has seen some 250 of the museum employees remain at work.

The French government’s count of COVID-19 patients in ICUs and hospital surveillance units climbed to 4,974 on March 29. That is past the last high-point of 4,919 ICU cases on Nov. 16, when France was also gripped by a virus surge and was locked down in response.

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ICU admissions are increasing by double digits on a daily basis. Doctors are increasingly sounding the alarm that they may have to start turning patients away for ICU care, particularly in the Paris region.

"We are in a crisis situation," said Dr. Jacques Ballout of the Pierre Beregevoy Hospital in the Burgundy town of Nevers. His hospital’s 12-bed intensive care ward is at capacity with COVID and non-COVID patients.

"We’ll see if we can stay the course. It all depends on the infections," Ballout told The Associated Press.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.