PARIS – The Louvre museum in Paris has launched its vision to reopen on July 6 with a commitment to offering a more friendly and accessible experience for a mainly local audience.
The coronavirus health crisis has pushed the institution to redirect its focus given that 75 percent of regular visitors were foreigners, with Americans and Chinese tourists topping the list.
The massive drop in international arrivals will have a dramatic effect on the Louvres’ rooms, which during the summer were used to hosting a million visitors a month.
“It is time to come and see the Louvre with fewer visitors,” director Jean-Luc Martinez told reporters at the presentation.
The Louvre closed its doors on March 13, four days before the French government enforced a nationwide lockdown, and has used this period to prepare the museum’s spaces and to rethink the role of the gallery.
The use of face masks will be mandatory for children over the age of 11 and all adults and visitors will have to reserve tickets and time slots in advance.
Punters will be guided by arrows on the floor that guide the trails within the gallery and in the most iconic rooms, such as the one harboring the Monalisa, people will have to continue on the specified routes and not backtrack to keep flows of visitors within approved limits.
The museum will reopen 70 percent of its rooms, but the vastness of its collection means the number of artworks that will be exhibited is still overwhelming.
For example, punters will delight in the rooms devoted to modern sculpture showcasing over 30,000 works from the Medieval, Renaissance, and Modern periods across 45,000 square meters.
A novelty that has been added to the experience is a group of experts who will be available to talk to visitors free of charge and without prior reservation in eight iconic spaces, including Napoleon III Apartments.
According to Martinez, the drive behind this initiative is to make the collections more accessible to visitors who may feel intimidated by the environment or keen to revisit works that in the past may have lacked context.
The gallery has allocated time frames for different types of visitors. Historically Chinese and American tourists prefer to visit the grounds first thing in the morning, but the gallery expects local visitors to prefer later viewings.
The Louvre has predicted an 80 percent drop in the number of visitors.
With this outlook and considering the health and safety measures required, the museum has adjusted access conditions to the projected footfall.
It will initially open at 30 percent capacity and organizers will assess the situation as it evolves.
“We can assess the losses since closing at around 40 million euros. It is difficult to know if it will worsen in the coming months. Probably,” the president has said of revenues.
The lockdown was rolled out across the country on the back of the success of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition.
The October diary includes the Body and Soul exhibition spanning Italian Renaissance sculpture from Donatello to Michelangelo, and a show focusing on Renaissance artist Albrecht Altdorfer, a German painter and printmaker.
Next year archeology will take center stage and the launch of a new website which will have a more didactic focus.
“With the success of the website during confinement, we have seen that people want to be told stories,” says Martinez, adding that the pandemic has accelerated certain projects the museum had in the pipeline.
The Parisian art gallery, the most visited in the world with 9.6 million people in 2019, is aware that it will take at least two years to bounce back from the COVID crisis, but it is facing this period with confidence.
“The palace is more than eight centuries old and the museum opened two years ago. This crisis, of course, is a particular moment, but the Louvre will continue to stand,” the president adds.
The Louvre has its eyes set on 2021, the year that will bring the Olympic Games to Paris along with many tourists.
“There is no miracle solution. It is necessary to open more hours and more rooms. My duty is to work on that so that we can be better hosts,” Martinez adds just days before the bustle returns to the Louvre’s majestic rooms.