It may finally be possible to see the Mona Lisa without an abundance of selfie sticks in the way. On 6 July, Musée du Louvre in Paris is to reopen, following a 16-week closure, which has cost some €40 million.
In a more conventional year, the museum would host ten million visitors. Now, with the French borders closed to travellers out with the European Union, visitor numbers will be a mere fraction of what they once were.
Jean-Luc Martinez, an expert in ancient Greek sculpture, has directed the museum since 2013. In an interview with The New York Times, he reflected on the future of the Louvre, considering the impact of past disasters. He notes: “This time, we don’t know what will happen. Our worst-case scenario is that it will take us three years to get back to our normal visitor levels.”
With regards to gaining the requisite financial support for the museum’s survival, Martinez notes: “We’re working with the Ministry of Culture on a plan to guarantee the future of the Louvre. The Louvre and the Château de Versailles are particularly reliant on international tourism.”
As a state-owned museum, the Louvre is already the recipient of a €94 million subsidy from the state, “the largest contribution the French government makes to any French museum.”
Martinez’s conclusion is strangely optimistic: “Contrary to what some people think, the world after the coronavirus will not be that different from the world before.”