Sunday, September 27, 2020
banner
Home /  Europe  /  France’s Louvre reopens to applause after 16-week virus shutdown

France’s Louvre reopens to applause after 16-week virus shutdown

France’s Louvre reopens to applause after 16-week virus shutdown

AFP
Paris
The world’s most visited museum, the Louvre in Paris, reopened Monday after nearly four months of coronavirus closure, with a restricted number of masked visitors enjoying a rare chance to view the “Mona Lisa” and other treasures without the usual throngs.
Several dozen visitors queued outside the vast former palace of France’s kings, eagerly awaiting the opening at 9:00 am (0700 GMT) as the museum hopes to start recuperating losses estimated at more than 40 million euros ($45 million) due to the lockdown.
When the doors opened, spontaneous applause rang out.
“I am very, very happy to welcome visitors to a museum that exists first and foremost to welcome visitors,” said museum director Jean-Luc Martinez.
“We have dedicated our lives to art, we like to share this passion, and here we are!” The museum’s most popular draws will be accessible, including Leonardo’s “Mona Lisa,” the Venus de Milo and the Louvre’s vast antiquities collection.
But galleries in which social distancing is more difficult, about a third of the total, will remain off-limits, and visitor numbers were capped at 500 per half hour in a bid to lower coronavirus transmission risks.
Face masks are compulsory and no snacks or cloakrooms are available.
Tickets must be bought beforehand online, and were sold out for the long-awaited reopening after the Louvre’s longest closure since World War II.
“Some 7,000 people have reserved tickets, normally we host about 30,000 people” per day, said Martinez, who expects tough months and years ahead.
The museum will not get any anywhere near the 9.6 million visitors it hosted last year -- down from a record 10 million in 2018. Nearly three-quarters of its visitors in a normal year are from abroad.