The typical summer crowds were missing when Paris’s Louvre Museum reopened to visitors on Monday, July 6. Famously known as the world’s most visited museum, the Louvre could draw as many as 50,000 people per day before the pandemic (and even had to briefly close in 2019 due to overcrowding issues). As it reemerged after a four-month coronavirus lockdown, the institution said it expected only 7,000 visitors on reopening day.
The majority of the Louvre’s prepandemic visitors came from overseas, led by travelers from the United States, who are barred from Europe for the time being. The museum is hoping to attract more local visitors from Paris and within the EU as borders reopen, but it is bracing for a plunge in numbers compared to previous years.
In addition to limiting visitor numbers, the Louvre is also requiring guests to make timed reservations for their visits and wear face masks inside the museum. Among the tourists there on reopening day was Zino Vandenbeaghen, who traveled from Belgium to visit the Louvre, as well as the Palace of Versailles.
“It’s super,” he told the Associated Press. “The ideal moment to visit.”
About 70 percent of the enormous museum is accessible to visitors currently, including its most famous work: Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa painting. While guests still need to wait in a queue to get up close and personal with the painting, the following photos show the difference in crowds from before the pandemic and on reopening day at the Mona Lisa and elsewhere in the museum.
Before: The lines to see the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre Museum on May 2, 2018
After: The lines to see the “Mona Lisa” on July 6, 2020
Before: The front of the line to view the “Mona Lisa” at the Louvre in September 2018
After: The front of the line to view the “Mona Lisa” on July 6, 2020
Before: On April 2, 2018, crowds gathered in the Grande Gallery of the Louvre to view Jacques-Louis David’s 1807 painting “The Coronation of Napoleon”
After: On July 6, 2020, a more socially distanced group gathers in front of “The Coronation of Napoleon”
The Associated Press contributed to this article.