The Louvre Museum in Paris has put nearly half a million items from its collection online.
While the halls of museums remain closed owing to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions in France, the Louvre's database is available to the public free of charge on a newly launched platform, collections.louvre.fr.
Of the 482,000 items in the collection, more than three quarters have already been labelled with information and pictures.
The database contains works from the Louvre and Musee National Eugene-Delacroix, as well as sculptures from the Tuileries and Carrousel Gardens. In a press release, the museum stated that the collection ranges from works on display, those on long-term loan and even works in storage.
Works recovered after the Second World War that are currently being entrusted to the Louvre until they are returned to their legitimate owners can also be viewed. In recent years, the museum has displayed the Nazi-looted art in the hopes of restoring them to the Jewish families they were stolen from.
As part of making its collection public, the Louvre is also working to verify more than 13,000 items acquired between 1933 and 1945, according to a report by French news network France 24. The process is estimated to take five years, after which investigations will proceed on works acquired in later decades.
The museum's president-director Jean-Luc Martinez estimated that about 1 per cent of portraits in the collections were looted. "The Louvre has nothing to hide, and the reputational risk is enormous," he told France 24. "When the next generations want to know where these collections came from, how do we react? By doing the historical work and establishing the facts."
To browse through the entire collection online, visitors can use simple or advance search features and look through themed albums. There is also an interactive map that allows them to move from one viewing room to another. In addition, the Louvre said the website is “updated regularly by museum experts”, which means the database will continually expand and “reflect advances in research”.
As the pandemic has caused museums worldwide to close, many have turned their attention to the digital realm, revamping their websites and building an online presence.
The Louvre says its main website, Louvre.fr, received 21 million visits in 2020. By comparison, the Louvre, one of the most visited museums in the world, welcomed about 10.2 million visitors in 2018.
The new website has three main sections, including the explore section, which delves into the history of various parts of the museum and the artworks housed inside.