The Louvre has put its entire 480,000-piece collection online to allow art lovers to appreciate masterpieces such as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa.
The Paris gallery, which normally attracts 10million visitors a year – and is famed for its long queues – has been shut since October 30 in a bid to contain the pandemic.
Its site, collections.louvre.fr, allows users to explore the museum's eight departments – as well as artworks in storage not normally available to view. The site is in French, English, Spanish and Chinese.
President-director Jean-Luc Martinez said: 'The Louvre is dusting off its treasures, even the least-known.
The Paris gallery, which normally attracts 10million visitors a year – and is famed for its long queues – has been shut since October 30 in a bid to contain the pandemic
'For the first time, anyone can access the entire collection of works from a computer or smartphone for free. The Louvre's stunning cultural heritage is just a click away.'
The Louvre is one of several world-famous museums to offer virtual tours during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Others include the British Museum, the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and New York's Guggenheim and Metropolitan Museum Of Art.
It comes after a year of pandemic-related shutdowns that has seen an explosion in visits to its main website, louvre.fr, which has also been given a major makeover.
'It's a step that has been in preparation for several years with the aim of serving the general public as well as researchers. Accessibility is at the heart of our mission,' said Mr Martinez.
The Louvre has put its entire 480,000-piece collection online to allow art lovers to appreciate masterpieces such as the Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa
The new database includes not only items on public display in the museum but also those in storage, including at its new state-of-the-art facility at Lievin in northern France.
The platform also includes the Delacroix museum, which is run by the Louvre, as well as sculptures from the neighbouring Tuileries gardens and works recovered from Germany since the end of the war in 1945 that are waiting to be restored to the families from which they were looted.
The museum announced earlier this month that it would intensify its efforts to restore items looted from Jewish families by the Nazi regime.
It is working to complete the verification of all 13,943 items acquired between 1933 and 1945, a process it hopes to complete within five years, to be followed by investigations on works acquired in later decades.
Martinez estimated that around one percent of portraits in the collections were looted.
'The Louvre has nothing to hide, and the reputational risk is enormous,' he said. '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.'