When was the last time you visited the Louvre? Be honest, now. It’s likely been a while. And — given it’s said it would take around 100 days discovering all its pieces — we wager there are dozens of works you’re yet to discover.
The best part? Right now, the timed slots and limited capacity mean that visitors to the world’s most famous museum can enjoy the art without the crowds. Just book a timed ticket and voilà — you’ve got the place to yourself (almost).
So! Where to begin? We’ve put together a Louvre guide. But not the most obvious treasures, because you’ve probably seen those and can read about them everywhere. Instead, these are the pieces that most people don’t see, but are well worth the time to sniff out.
- Pop Past the Protective Genies
- Medieval Foundation of the Louvre, Location: Lower level of Sully Wing
- Head to the head of Amenophis IV-Akhenaten
- Charles V’s Gold Scepter
- The Two Sisters (Chassériau)
- Hop over to the Hippo
- Birds on the ceiling, 1953
- Follow the Falcon
- Patrick Allan-Fraser — View of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre in ruins
- Bonus: The Unmissable Mona
Pop Past the Protective Genies
Looming over passers-by at 4.2 meters tall, these incredible stone guardians date from the 8th century BCE. Known as shedu or lamassu, these statues feature huge wings, human heads, and the body of bulls and were the protectors of the palace of Sargon II. Originally from what is now Iraq, these statues are now perched and ready to be discovered in the Louvre.
Medieval Foundation of the Louvre, Location: Lower level of Sully Wing
Stumbling into hidden gems at the Louvre feels natural. Unearthing medieval ruins, however, might take you by surprise. Thanks to the work of archaeologists in the 1980s, visitors of the Louvre Museum can now explore the ruins of a castle that existed on the palace grounds between the 12th and 16th Centuries. Few people know to visit it — doing so makes you a true Louvre aficionado.
Head to the head of Amenophis IV-Akhenaten
Dating from 1372 BCE and the rule of the sun god devoted Amenophis IV, this fragment of a pillar comes from the Temple of Amon at Karnak. With highly-detailed carving and wonderfully-preserved condition, this is a must-see for any fans of Ancient Egypt and one of the Louvre’s hidden secrets.
Charles V’s Gold Scepter
You know you’ve made it in life when a tiny statue of you sits on top of the golden scepter of a French monarch. For Charlemagne, this was reality. Held at the Louvre since 1793, the Scepter of Charles V was used in numerous coronation ceremonies, including that of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Two Sisters (Chassériau)
A seminal work of the French romantic movement, Théodore Chassériau’s “The Two Sisters” has been held in the Louvre since 1918. The painting initially received a mixed reception from critics when it was unveiled in 1840. Since then, the portrait of Chassériau’s two sisters, Adèle and Aline, has captivated art lovers and had people insisting the two women are identical twins.
Hop over to the Hippo
While cruising down the Seine is a definite Paris highlight, there’s another aquatic sight to see. From Ancient Egypt, the “Blue Hippo” is a true treasure of the past. With its bright blue coating, the small sculpture of the hippopotamus is painted to show it at home amongst the reeds. However, its home for centuries was a lot dryer as it was stored as part of the burial treasures in a high-ranking official’s tomb.
Birds on the ceiling, 1953
The Louvre isn’t known for its contemporary art collection, but in 1953, artist George Braque was asked to contribute to the museum’s permanent collection by painting a mural on the ceiling of the Henri II room. The work is intended to represent a skylight — those standing below it look up through a gap to see nature: birds, sky, stars and a moon.
Follow the Falcon
This small statuette shows the leader of the Nubians and Egypt, King Taharqa kneeling before a huge golden falcon. Although to modern eyes it might seem a little abstract, the falcon here is the god Hemen, the patron of the city of Hefat, present-day el-Moalla in Egypt. Stop by this statuette for not only the incredible history of the piece, but also to admire the stunning gold and careful details.
Patrick Allan-Fraser — View of the Grande Galerie of the Louvre in ruins
The classical painting by Allan-Fraser, shows the Grand Gallery of the Louvre in ruins. There are few museums that house works depicting the building they are hung in in a state of complete ruin. (Read: Louvre got meta). Amidst the destruction, a young artist, seemingly oblivious to his environment, studies a statue intensely and mirrors it’s form. The message is one of hope: even after ruinous upheaval, hope and recovery are possible. Perhaps a timely message for today.
Bonus: The Unmissable Mona
Of course, the main draw at the Louvre is Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. You’ve likely seen it. If you haven’t, you know it. Painted around 1503 and on display at the Louvre since 1797, this is one of the most recognized portraits in the world. Normally you would have to fight the crowds to even get a glance at the lady with the magnetic eyes, but with the current paced entry slots, there’s space so it’s safe to take your time and view the painting without any rush. So enjoy this one again.