Crowds around Leonardo da Vinci's “Mona Lisa” have been a constant since the museum’s opening.

In 2018, 10.2 million tourists visited the museum, an increase of 25 percent over 2017.

In Paris on Monday, the doors to the world’s most visited museum remained closed after members of the museum’s reception and security staff—citing an increase in visitor numbers and a decline in the number of workers—exercised their right to strike.

In a statement, the Sud Culture Solidaires union said the Louvre was “suffocating” and that there has been a noticeable “deterioration in conditions for visitors and workers,” reports The Local France.

Pierre Zinenberg, a Louvre employee and union representative, told the Associated Press that despite visitor numbers rising 20 percent in the past decade, the number of museum staff has decreased. Adding more fuel to the frustrations? Renovation around Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, one of the museum’s top attractions, has meant massive lines, and some employees even say they were harassed by fed-up tourists waiting (and waiting) to see the masterpiece.

The Louvre is closed on Tuesdays, and union officials voted to reopen the museum on Wednesday after management said it would bring in 30 temporary employees for the summer period. The museum has said that any tickets issued for Monday can be refunded by writing assistance-billetterie@louvre.fr.

How to avoid (some of) the crowds

To avoid the long, long lines to get into the Louvre, be sure to book your ticket online, which can shave off wait times by as much as an hour. You can also access the museum through more unconventional ways: This June, Airbnb Experiences will offer five after-hours concerts featuring French pop star Clara Luciani inside the museum’s Café Richelieu for around $22. The proceeds benefit the Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, and those who book the experience will also get a free ticket to the museum, which they can use during normal visitor hours.

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Even better? From September to December, Airbnb Experiences will also begin offering exclusive after-hours tours, available in French and English, for around $33. They can be booked here.

Should you want to avoid the insanity of the Louvre altogether, there’s no shortage of other art museums in the capital. The newest, Fluctuart—the world’s first floating art museum—opens in June with a permanent collection including work from artists like Keith Haring and JR. Beyond the city, it’s a short train ride to Vernon to the home and gardens of impressionist artist Claude Monet

The Associated Press contributed reporting. This article originally appeared online on May 28, 2019; it was updated on May 29, 2019, to include current information.

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