Louvre prepares to reopen as of 6 July

With it's zig-zag barriers, the room containing the world-famous Mona Lisa looks rather like an airport check-in area at the height of the holiday season. Orange dots on the floor mark where visitors are expected to stand in order to keep a safe distance from one another. The safety precautions are just a couple of the many measures the Louvre is taking when it reopens to the public on July 6 following the coronavirus lockdown, DPA reported.

As Louvre is the world's most-visited museum, the event is a huge challenge, director Jean-Luc Martinez said. Last year alone, 9.6 million people made their way through its doors, but visitor numbers will now be reduced to 30% of its usual capacity.  The museum is re-opening with 70% of its exhibition space open to the public and more than 35,000 items on display. Masks will be obligatory and visitors will have to follow a set path through the museum in order to avoid bumping into others. 

"We'll be re-opening the rooms holding French paintings of the 19th century, the Islamic arts department and Italian sculptures among others," Martinez says. And of course access will be granted to the Paris museum's most famous residents: the Greek marble statue Venus de Milo and Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.  Instead of between 30,000 and 40,000 visitors a day, only a small proportion of that figure will now be allowed in and whether that many people will actually arrive is not clear since 75% of the Louvre's usual visitors come from abroad.

Americans make up the biggest contingent, followed by the Chinese. Visitors from the rest of Europe are only the third biggest group, followed by Koreans and Brazilians. Only 2 million people come from France, according to Martinez. He's hoping that between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors will come per day, perhaps 5,000 a day in the summer. But given the current warnings against non-essential travel due to the coronavirus epidemic a big question mark hangs over those estimates.

The usual long queues in front of the entrance and the crowds in the rooms holding the Mona Lisa and the 19th century French masters will, at least for the time-being, be things of the past. As will commentaries like, "Chaos at the Louvre," "inaccessible," "total disorganisation," all of which could be read on the museum's Tripadvisor page last year. The Louvre had to turn people away in July last year because of overcrowding.

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