The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic shut down most of Europe in March forcing a lot of cultural institutions to close their doors for visitors and, instead, make their exhibitions available online. But as countries across the continent have managed to slow the spread of the disease, a lot of businesses and museums have slowly started to welcome back guests. Of course, the experience has changed completely—in Italy, for example, museum visitors are handed a “social distancing necklace” that monitors their location at all times. In France, the long-awaited re-opening of the world’s biggest museum, the Louvre, is finally happening next week, on July 6, and it’s fair to say that roaming its halls will look a tad different this time.
As part of its safety measures, the museum has announced that visitors will now have to reserve a specific time slot online prior to their visit in order to see any of its exhibitions. Everyone over the age of eleven must also wear a mask (visitors have to provide their own masks) and sanitizing gel must be used to disinfect your hands before entering the building. And since Mona Lisa is one of the main attractions in the French museum that traditionally draws hordes of selfie-taking tourists, The Louvre has come up with a plan for people to safely enjoy Leonardo da Vince’s masterpiece and snap a picture of her. Only two visitors at a time for about ten to 15-minutes will be allowed in the room where the famous painting is displayed leaving them enough time to enjoy her mysterious smile. And orange circles painted on the floor will indicate where to stand in order to take a selfie without breaching the social distancing rules of the museum. And once you exit the gallery, you won’t be able to go back.
About seventy percent of the museum will open for visitors next week or around 484,000 square feet of exhibition space. This will include some of the most-visited galleries such as Ancient Egypt, Greek, and Roman antiquities, and Italian, Spanish, and English painting halls.
In 2018, the Louvre attracted a record-breaking 10.2 million visitors, most of whom came from abroad. Since France hasn’t yet opened its borders to travel from neighboring countries or the rest of Europe, it is expected that the usual crowds at the Louvre will be non-existent. So far, about 12,000 reservations have been made since the online reservation system was open on June 15. Needless to say, if you happen to be in France at the moment, now is the time to visit the world’s biggest museum and have it practically all to yourself.