Date of Completion


Degree Type

Honors Thesis


History (HIST)

First Advisor

Amy Woodson-Boulton


With the collapse of the French monarchy in 1789, France sought to solidify their sense of national identity in the wake of revolution. Since the late eighteenth century, museums have long been used to foster nationalism and belonging through the institutionalization of historical narratives-- the opening of the Louvre in 1793, and its transition from a royal palace to a palace of the people, served as a physical metaphor of the complete political transformation that occurred during the French Revolution. Existing literature examines the revolutionary nationalization of the Louvre as it relates to the concept of the modern museum and the field of public history, especially in the eighteenth century and leading into the Napoleonic era. This paper will extend on the nationalization of the Louvre in relation to France’s search for national identity and the artifacts they needed in order to do so, in addition to considering the ways in which this need to find a new identity often came at the cost of marginalized communities through the looting and reframing of artifacts from places like Egypt, Asia, and Africa. These questions will be examined through the use of artifact analysis, government documents, and newspaper articles. Additionally, this will be framed through Edward Said’s Theory of Orientalism, examining the Louvre’s influence in feeding into French Orientalism through the presentation and collection of ‘exotic’ artifacts during Napoleon’s conquests.