The Palais du Louvre, which houses one of the most stunning collections of artworks in the world, is known first and foremost as a museum. Yet for almost seven hundred years the buildings constituted one of the principal residences of the kings and emperors of France.
In 1793, the Louvre became a museum, and has been given over ever since to the conservation and presentation of thousands of artworks and legacies of past civilizations. From the mid-19th century onward, the Louvre underwent the largest phase of extension in its history under Napoleon III. Thenceforth, the Louvre opened onto the great perspective facing western Paris.The Grand Louvre project, launched by President François Mitterand in 1981, modernized the museum and extended it, with the opening in 1993 of the Richelieu wing, which formerly housed the Ministry of Finance.
text excerpt from the official Louvre Museum website