Written By: Ben Cosgrove

When it comes to the excellence of their collections, the beauty of their galleries and the sheer breadth of their cultural significance, few museums on earth can match Paris’ monumental jewel, the Louvre. In 1953, when LIFE photographer Dmitri Kessel visited, many of the Louvre’s rooms had recently been reorganized and redecorated but the intrinsic, inherent grandeur of the vast place (eight miles of galleries) remained undiminished.

Here, LIFE.com presents a selection of Kessel’s pictures of the scenes inside what LIFE unhesitatingly called “the world’s top museum”—a title to which, even today, six decades later, the wonderful, storied, glorious Louvre can arguably still lay claim.

Aerial view of the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden, 1953.

Aerial view of the Louvre and the Tuileries Garden, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Louvre, 1953.

Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Patrons view Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the Louvre, 1953.

Patrons view Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The Raft of the Medusa, the Louvre

The Raft of the Medusa, the Louvre

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Children take notes during a discussion of ancient Greek pottery at the Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Venus de Milo, the Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Married couple and their young daughter view the crown of King Louis XV at the Louvre, 1953.

Married couple and their young daughter view the crown of King Louis XV at the Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Original caption: “Loading statue, worker places Roman carving of athlete on carriage to be taken to workshop where legs, put on by an earlier restorer, will be removed.”

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Artists scrutinize their versions of a Titian portrait (left) and the Mona Lisa (right), Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

The Louvre, 1953.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Dusting a sculpture at the Louvre

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Painting of Jeanne d’Aragon by Raphael at the Louvre.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

Apollon gallery at the Louvre.

Dmitri Kessel Time & Life Pictures/Shutterstock

More Like This

Route 30 Nebraska, USA, 1948. destinations

This Land is Your Land: LIFE Photos From All 50 States

destinations

When Miami Beach Went to War

Haglia Sophia destinations

Uncovering Ancient Christian Mosaics

Florence, Italy destinations

Florence, A Marvel Of Enduring Power

Rocky Mountain Road Trip destinations

The Highs of a Rocky Mountain Road Trip, 1959

A Tahitian woman walking her horse through the jungle. destinations

Stunning Photographs of Islands That Inspired Great Works of Art