After months-long closures, museums are finally starting to reopen. But the celebratory mood has been tempered by strange and new guidelines for seeing art, including requirements that visitors wear masks, purchase tickets largely through online reservation systems, and submit to temperature checks.
The latest museum to plan a reopening is Paris’s Louvre museum, which is currently expecting to start accepting visitors again on July 6 unless governmental guidelines change, the French publication Le Figaro reported on Friday. Yet operations are hardly expected to go as they did in pre-coronavirus times. In an interview with Le Figaro, Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s director, said that attendance will be severely impacted, due to travel restrictions.
Martinez estimated that the Louvre will see a 70 percent drop in attendance. The demographics of its visitorship will shift greatly: Martinez said that 75 percent of ticket sales come from foreigners, but because of travel restrictions still in place that will soon change. Plus, many in France take vacation during the summer, and so the museum is expecting fewer locals as well.
Despite his bleak forecast, Martinez remained optimistic. “It’s time to come to the Louvre and rediscover the collection, in almost optimal security conditions, and in exceptional visiting comfort,” he told Le Figaro.
Typically, the Louvre welcomes between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors a day, making it one of the world’s most widely visited institutions. The museum, which closed in mid-March, is being forced to alter crowd flow, however, which means that fewer people will be allowed into some parts of the Louvre. Normally, visitors can enter through multiple places; for now, they can only come in through the I. M. Pei–designed pyramid. And roughly 30 percent of the museum will be closed off to visitors entirely.
No other major museum has been as transparent about the severe impact of the coronavirus on its attendance. Some other institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, have provided numbers indicating massive financial losses, but Martinez did not offer any information in that respect.
Martinez did, however, state that the Louvre is likely to see its business altered for years to come. He projected a “return to normal” for the museum 2023. He likened the situation to the post–September 11 period, when the Louvre saw a 40 percent attendance drop, and said, “We will have to be imaginative, but the Louvre probably has … more resources than the others.”