French Museums Will Reopen to the Public This Summer, But Expect a Quiet Season as International Tourism Craters

A staggered schedule of reopenings starts as soon as June 3.

The Louvre Museum in Paris. Photo by Kiran Ridley/Getty Images.

France’s museums are now planning to gradually reopen—with social-distancing restrictions in place—this June and July. The announcement comes after several of the country’s European neighbors, including Germany and Italy, have carefully reopened their own museums in recent weeks.

The Louvre’s annex museum 120 miles north of Paris, Louvre-Lens, will lead the way for France when it reopens its doors on June 3, the Art Newspaper reports.

Following in its footsteps is the Château de Versailles, which will open June 6; Paris’s Musée du Quai Branly on June 9; the Musée d’Orsay on June 23; and both the Centre Pompidou and the Grand Palais on July 1. The Musée Rodin will reopen about a week later.

The last major French museum to roll out its reopening plan is the Louvre—the most visited museum in the world—which is currently scheduled to begin welcoming visitors again on July 6. Chairman Jean-Luc Martinez told the Art Newspaper that it would make 70 percent of the space accessible to the returning public. Signposts will guide traffic in directions that encourage proper social distancing and attendance will be especially limited in the gallery that houses Leonardo’s Mona Lisa.

Masks are required for entry at all museums and visitors are encouraged to book timed tickets online in advance.

Maintaining social distance should be easier this summer, since attendance numbers are expected to plummet with the decline of international tourism, which comprises more than 75 percent of the Louvre’s audience. (Martinez told TAN that the museum has so far refunded 70,000 advance tickets purchased online.)

Visitors who do make it to the Louvre this summer will be able to see the exhibition “The Advent of the Artist,” which highlights artists’ self-portraits. But its exhibition on German Renaissance artist Albrecht Altdorfer and its blockbuster show on the masters of Italian Renaissance sculpture, “Body and Soul Sculpture in Italy from Donatello to Michelangelo,” have both been delayed.

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