Art Institutions around the world continue to feel the impact of the pandemic, which has forced museums to shutter for months on end, reduce visitor capacities, and take other measures to mitigate the spread of Covid-19. Now, a report in the Art Newspaper reveals that the Louvre in Paris, which drew over 1 million visitors to its blockbuster Leonardo exhibition before lockdowns went into effect, experienced a 72 percent drop in attendance for 2020.
According to the Art Newspaper, the museum was open only 161 days out of its usual 311 days of business and lost €90 million (about $110.3 million) in revenue. With international travel curtailed, a lack of international visitors deeply impacted the Louvre’s attendance figures, as did a reduction in the number of visitors allowed to be in the museum on any given day. In total, the institution brought in about 2.7 million visitors last year, whereas in 2019 it welcomed 9.6 million people, which made it the most-visited museum in the world.
The Louvre had accurately projected this kind of major drop in attendance before its reopening in July 2020 following a temporary closure initiated in March. Last May, Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum’s director, estimated that the institution would see a 70 percent shortfall in visitors as compared to other years. Martinez cited the fact that 75 percent of the Louvre’s ticket sales usually come from people who live in other countries.
Martinez said at the time that he predicated a “return to normal” for the museum in 2023. As infection rates surged in Europe last fall, the Louvre closed temporarily once again late last year and remains shuttered until further notice. French museums had expected to reopen this year, but in a press conference on Thursday evening, the country’s Prime Minister Jean Castex said they must remain closed until at least the end of January. (This announcement also further delayed the opening of the Bourse de Commerce, a long-awaited private museum in Paris that would house the contemporary art collection of ARTnews Top 200 Collector François Pinault, which was to open on January 23, after being delayed from last summer because of the pandemic.)
Museums in the United States have also faced dire circumstances and grim projections since pandemic-related closures and social distancing measures took hold last year. In July 2020, a survey by the American Alliance of Museums showed that one third of museums in the U.S. could shutter permanently as a result of the financial toll of the crisis.