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The Louvre’s Limit On Visitors

January 13, 2023
The Louvre at night, with I.M. Pei's famous glass pyramid outside

The Louvre

In 2022, the Louvre was the most visited museum in the world. While attendance numbers are still not quite reaching pre-pandemic levels, the museum has made vast improvements since 2021. However, the museum administration recently admitted to voluntarily restricting attendance, not for safety’s sake, but to give museum visitors a more pleasant experience. Having been to the Louvre myself, I know the number of people trying to gain entrance can be dizzying. Visitors can wait for hours even if they’re just there for the Mona Lisa. Consequently, the gallery housing the Mona Lisa can feel less like a museum and more like a mosh pit. But not only will the visitor cap reduce congestion in the galleries, but it will improve the livelihood of the museum’s 2,000 employees. In the past, Louvre staff have gone on strike over the deteriorating conditions due to the crowds. In response, on top of the visitor cap, the new museum director, Laurence des Cars, has also announced a two-year renovation project to improve these conditions for visitors and employees. In the meantime, the Louvre will host no new shows or exhibitions.

Due to the crowds and the conditions, in June 2022 the museum administration decided to place a cap of 30,000 on daily attendance. However, the museum only told the press about this policy last week. The Louvre is only closed on Tuesdays as well as three holidays per year, meaning that if the Louvre met its daily maximum every day, museum attendance would reach 9.3 million people. In 2022, the Louvre welcomed 7.8 million visitors, while the second-place Musée d’Orsay only saw 3.2 million. So it would still be the most-visited museum in the world even with the visitor cap. This may be a bit of a risky move since it may disappoint or even aggravate some tourists. Imagine waiting in line for hours only to be told that, unfortunately, you’re the 30,001st person. But perhaps simply seeing a line a little too long may deter some people from joining in, knowing there’s a cap on visitors. In any case, if you manage to get in, at least you won’t have to wade through a horde of people with selfie sticks (if those are still a thing) just to see the smaller-than-expected Mona Lisa.