If you google France, one of the topmost search results would be a staggering Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid. This glass pyramid stands in front of a majestic old-world palatial structure. The Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid is an amalgamation of the old and the new stands in the heart of Paris, and is one of the greatest French treasures, located in the Musee du Louvre or the Louvre Museum. Home to an unmatched collection of priceless artworks, the Louvre’s most iconic feature is the Louvre Pyramid, a glass replication of the Great Pyramids of Giza that stands in the Cour Napoleon, or central courtyard of the Louvre.
An unmissable landmark of Paris, the glass pyramid was constructed as part of a renovation project to modernise the Louvre. Built entirely out of crystal-clear glass, the pyramid stands to a whopping height of 21.6 metres and has 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass panes supported by metal panes of steel and aluminium. Envisioned as an addition that would ease the crowd pressure on the central museum structure, the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid today functions as the main entrance to the iconic art museum of France.
While the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid found international popularity and has become the most defining feature of the Louvre, it has also faced immense criticism and been the centre of controversies since the beginning. The cost of the Grand Louvre project was massive, which had led to complaints from certain French classes. As for the pyramid itself, the first controversy was the selection of a Chinese American for designing the structure, which had led many to doubt if someone who was not well-versed with French culture would be able to do justice to the historic structure.
The design of the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid has been severely criticised as part of aesthetic and political debates, with critics pointing out that the pyramid is an Egyptian symbol of death and thus, an inauspicious structure in the middle of Paris. Another major criticism was the ‘sacrilege’ of tampering with the traditional French Revolution architecture of the Louvre with modern contemporary architecture. While the intention was to add a contemporary touch to the old museum, many saw the glass pyramid, dubbed the Pharaoh Francois’ Pyramid, as sorely sticking out amidst the majesty of the classic architectural style.
Another long-standing criticism has been the rumour that the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid has 666 panes, a number that is associated with Satan and has negative connotations. Officials have denied the claim and maintained that the structure has 673 glass segments.
The Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid was constructed as part of the Grand Louvre project, an ambitious decade-long project motivated by the lack of space for visitors and the collection inside the centuries-old structure. Initiated in 1981 by the then French President Francois Mitterrand, the glass pyramid was envisioned as the central feature of the project. I.M. Pei, a Chinese American architect, was entrusted with the design of the structure and presented the design to the world in early 1984.
The pyramid structure, which replicates the massive proportions of the Great Pyramids of Giza, was engineered by Nicolet Chartrand Knoll Ltd of Montreal and Rice Francis Ritchie of Paris. Other additions, like the museum’s underground entrance, auditorium, restaurants, exhibition rooms, bookstore, warehouses, and the base of the central pyramid were created by the French VINCI.
The Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid stands at a whopping height of 21.6 metres and has been constructed out of specially-created crystal-clear glass segments instead of the regular bluish-greenish tinged glass. A total of 603 rhombus and 70 triangular-shaped glass panes have been utilised, along with metal poles that are made out of 105 tonnes of aluminium and 95 tonnes of steel. The massive structure covers an area of 1,000 square metres and it is one of the well-known Louvre Pyramid facts.
The main pyramid and the underground lobby beneath were designed to accommodate the ever-increasing rush of visitors and lessen the pressure on the Louvre’s primary building. Those entering the Louvre from the pyramid entrance would have to first descend into a vast lobby and then ascend into the Louvre.
The construction of the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid was completed in late 1987, and it was opened to the general public on 14th October 1988. The underground area and the vast lobby beneath the Pyramid were thrown open to visitors on 1st April 1989. The modern addition was envisioned as a touch of the contemporary to the traditional centuries-old Louvre and has been a highlight of the world-renowned museum ever since.
While the main Pyramids of the Louvre Museum is the central I.M. Pei Pyramid which functions as the main entrance to the magnificent museum today, there are four other Pyramids of the Louvre Museum. The central pyramid mimics the Great Pyramid of Giza in its proportion and is symbolic of the importance of the museum’s Egyptian antiquities collection. This glass mammoth rises to a height of 21.6 metres and uses more than 600 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments and metal poles that have been created from 105 tonnes of aluminium and 95 tonnes of steel.
Surrounding the central pyramid are the three small Pyramids of the Louvre Museum, which have been strategically placed as light shafts for the collections of the museum. The final Pyramid of the Louvre Museum is not easy to spot and is only visible from the underground Carrousel du Louvre entrance. This ingenious structure was also designed by I.M. Pei, and it stands symmetrically inverted against the main pyramid.
A lesser-known Louvre Pyramid facts is that the glass used in the construction was created from scratch. The 21.5 mm extra-clear laminated glass is crystal clear and was made enough for constructing two additional pyramids. The extra glass has been kept away in case any glass segments fell off.
Cleaning the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid is done by LL1, a remote-controlled robot, which uses suction cups to hold on to the glass while it climbs, and cleans using a squeegee and rotating brush. For tasks like descaling of the glass, ropers are used.
While it is a popular Louvre Pyramid facts that the glass structure is the museum’s main entrance, there are other entrances to the museum, namely the Porte des Lions, the Passage Richelieu, and the Carrousel du Louvre.
While the Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid was constructed to create more space for visitors at the museum, the venue today still falls short of space to accommodate the more than 10 million visitors who visit the museum annually.
While the I.M. Pei Pyramid is the central structure, there are in total five Pyramids of the Louvre Museum. Three small pyramids accompany the main structure and shine light on the museum’s collection, while the final pyramid is inverted and can be seen from the Carrousel du Louvre.
The Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid was constructed as the central feature of the Grand Louvre project, which had been initiated to ease the pressure on the museum’s space and add modern facilities like washrooms and restaurants. As part of remodelling the exteriors of the old structure, the pyramid was constructed to add a contemporary touch without changing the traditional outlook.
The Pyramid of the Louvre Museum was designed by I.M. Pei, a Chinese American architect who was chosen for the project by the then President of France, Francois Mitterrand.
The I.M. Pei Pyramid is located in the Cour Napoleon, or the main courtyard, of the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. The Pyramid functions as the main entrance of the Louvre Museum.
The Louvre Pyramid was a part of the Grand Louvre project, which the French President initiated in 1981. The construction of the Pyramid was completed in late 1987, and it was opened to the general public on 14th October 1988. The underground area and the vast lobby beneath the Pyramid were thrown open to visitors on 1st April 1989.
Records mention the number of glass panes, one of the frequently asked Louvre Pyramid facts, as 171 each on three sides and 160 on the entrance side of the Pyramid. The total number of rhombus and triangular-shaped glass panes thus adds up to 673.
The Pyramid of the Louvre Museum is made of more than 600 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments and metal poles that have been created from 105 tonnes of aluminium and 95 tonnes of steel.
The Louvre Museum Paris Pyramid is approximately 21.6 metres in height and covers an area of around a thousand square metres.
The underground area beneath the Louvre Pyramid is the main entrance to the Louvre Museum and has separate queues for visitors with tickets, visitors without tickets, visitors with membership cards, and priority access. During peak hours, it is recommended that you use the other entrances, namely the Porte des Lions for visitors with advance-booked tickets, the Passage Richelieu for visitors in groups and those with membership cards, and the Carrousel du Louvre which provides access to all visitors.