Paris' Louvre museum reopens on July 6 after crippling losses

The Louvre has been closed since March 13. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - The Louvre in Paris, the world's most visited museum and home to the Mona Lisa, reopens next Monday (July 6) but with coronavirus restrictions in place and parts of the complex closed to visitors.

The Louvre has been closed since March 13 and this has already led "to losses of over €40 million (S$63 million)," its director Jean-Luc Martinez said.

Of more than 10 million visitors in 2018, almost three-quarters were tourists.

"We have lost 80 per cent of our public. Seventy-five per cent of our visitors were foreigners," Mr Martinez said.

"We will at best see 20 to 30 per cent of our numbers recorded last summer - between 4,000 and 10,000 visitors daily at the most," he said.

Visitors will have to wear masks, there will be no snacks or cloakrooms available and the public will have to follow a guided path through the museum.

Positions have been marked in front of the Mona Lisa - where tourists routinely pose for selfies - to ensure social distancing.

France contributes €100 million to the Louvre's €250 million annual budget, and the museum must make up the rest, according to experts.

Seventy per cent of the museum's public areas - or 45,000 square metres - will be open to the public.

After the success of its blockbuster Leonardo exhibition, which closed earlier this year, the Louvre said its two exhibitions scheduled for spring and then postponed would now take place in the autumn.

They are on Italian sculpture from Donatello to Michelangelo, and the renaissance German master Albrecht Altdorfer.

The Louvre has upped its virtual presence during the lockdown and said it was now the most followed museum in the world on Instagram, with over four million followers.

Mr Martinez is planning a revamp of the museum ahead of 2024, when Paris hosts the Olympic Games.

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