One of the most visited museums in the world finally has a little breathing room for renovations.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Louvre saw up to 30,000-40,000 visitors a day, or almost 10 million visitors a year. In fact, the museum staff walked out in May 2019 to protest overcrowding.
The pandemic has certainly slowed things down for the museum — which is home to collections covering 9,000 years of history.
The Louvre closed on Oct. 30 for France’s second coronavirus lockdown. It is still uncertain when the museum will reopen, but in the meantime, employees are working on long-overdue renovation and maintenance projects.
Those projects include cleaning sculptures, reordering artifacts, checking inventories, reorganizing entrances and updating security systems. Museum staff are also conducting restorations in the Grande Galerie and a major restoration of the ancient Egyptian tomb chapel of Akhethotep from 2400BC.
Workers handle a painting called 'Christ on the Cross Adored by Two Donors' by Spanish painter El Greco, in the Louvre museum, in Paris. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
In total, 10 large-scale projects that were on hold since last March are under way — and progressing fast.
"We’re taking advantage of the museum’s closure to carry out a number of major works, speed up maintenance operations and start repair works that are difficult to schedule when the museum is operating normally," Laurent le Guedart, the Louvre’s Architectural Heritage and Gardens Director told the AP.
Unlike France’s first lockdown in March 2020, the most recent restrictions have allowed the Louvre’s 250 employees to remain fully operational, as long as they maintain social distancing measures.
Workers at the Louvre museum set up scaffolding in the museum. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
With the lockdown in place, the Louvre is also able to conduct renovations and maintenance projects all during the week. When the museum is fully open to visitors, those jobs could only be done on Tuesdays, the one day a week the museum is closed.
"When the museum reopens, everything will be perfect for its visitors — this Sleeping Beauty will have had the time to powder her nose," Elisabeth Antoine-Konig, Artifacts Department Curator told AP. "Visitors will be happy to see again these now well-lit rooms with polished floors and remodeled display cases."
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa hangs on the wall in a deserted Louvre museum. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
When it does reopen, visitors will have to pre-book their reservations to visit the Louvre, as part of the museum’s coronavirus safety precautions.
Until then, the museum offers virtual tours online.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.