The Louvre museum in Paris opened again today after closing for three and a half months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The museum threw open its doors at 9 a.m. local time (0700GMT), but to a European crowd only. With international borders still shut, visitors hailing from other countries will need to wait until restrictions are lifted.
According to a report by France24 TV, that figure is usually 70% of total museum visitors.
In a statement to Radio France International, Louvre Director Jean-Luc Martinez said the numbers are dropping from their customary highs.
“We are losing 80% of our public. We are going to be at best 20-30% down on last summer — between 4,000-10,000 visitors a day,” he said.
According to the museum’s website, the Louvre ranks as the world’s most-visited museum, welcoming 10 million people each year, but lockdown has seen a revenue drop of €40 million ($45 million), the website also reported. Its recent closure has been the longest since its shuttering in World War II.
Masks will be compulsory for all who enter, and a time for entry must be booked, according to the website. Larger groups are welcome but of up to 25 people only.
Despite having its fair share of competition the world over, the Louvre possesses some of the top artworks known to man, paintings such as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, The Raft of the Medusa by Theodore Gericault, and Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix, as well as sculptures such as the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory.
At the moment, visitors may view only 70% of the total collections, and the planned spring exhibition focusing on geniuses of the Renaissance has been cancelled.
The building’s cavernous interiors prove to be one of the best spaces to oblige the need for social distancing, something which will need to be reinforced for the many art lovers who will soon aim to visit the beloved institution. That anticipation though has not prevented museum administration from instituting the same sanitary measures found throughout the rest of the French society, such as the enforcement of the wearing of masks and keeping a meter (3.2 feet) apart.
Visitors will also find directional arrows placed on the floor of the building, steering everyone forward only, with the possibility to backtrack and look again at one’s favorite statue or painting prohibited for now.
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