After Her Trip to Another Gallery Sowed Chaos, Mona Lisa Is Back in Her Home at the Louvre—Only It’s Gotten a Complete Makeover

Leonardo's famous masterwork will now be backdropped by midnight blue walls.

Crowds strain to catch a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. Photo by Max Fercondini, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Crowds strain to catch a glimpse of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris. Photo by Max Fercondini, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The Mona Lisa‘s home has gotten a makeover.

The Louvre’s most famous painting was reinstalled in its longtime gallery in the museum’s Salle des États overnight on Monday. The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece had been on a staycation in another room, the Galerie Médicis, for a rocky two months while her permanent residence underwent renovations. 

The gallery now looks quite a bit different than it did before the Mona Lisa left. The walls have been repainted in midnight blue, a color that complements Leonardo’s famous painting better than the previous yellow tone. The painting has also been given a brand new vitrine so that visitors can get an even clearer view than before.

Mona Lisa‘s brief sojourn outside the gallery wreaked havoc on the museum. When the painting was relocated to its temporary display in July, tour guides reported two-hour waits with long lines forming outside the gallery’s single entrance. As chaos mounted, ticketed visitors without reserved time slots were turned away from the museum.

To avoid a similar crush of people and smart phones in the renovated gallery, the Louvre has introduced a new crowd-control system, implementing two single-file lines leading up to the work during crowded periods. 

“There will be two serpentine lines that will allow the audience to get as close as possible to the work, and for everyone to have a special moment with the Mona Lisa,” a Louvre staffer told the French publication Europe 1, explaining that, on average, a visitor stays in front of the work for 50 seconds. The new system will particularly help children and people with reduced mobility, who represent 18 percent of visitors, according to a statement from the museum.

In other crowd-control efforts, the museum also plans to implement a new timed ticketing policy later this month. The decision was made in advance of the Louvre’s highly anticipated blockbuster exhibition celebrating the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, which opens on October 24.

The new ticketing policy “allows a better flow of visitors and is key to a more comfortable visit,” Louvre officials told the Art Newspaper. Exactly how the new ticketing system will work, however, remains unclear. Reservations will need to be made online, but the museum has not determined whether all visitors will need them, or just the ones visiting the special exhibition. Within the first 30 hours of the tickets going on sale in June, the public purchased 33,500 advanced tickets, straining the website servers.

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (1503–1517). Courtesy of the Louvre, via Wikipedia Commons.

Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa (1503–1517). Courtesy of the Louvre, via Wikipedia Commons.

The Louvre, the world’s most visited museum, hit a record 10.2 million guests last year. Museum security went on strike in May, citing the increased admissions and shrinking staff size as the cause for deteriorating work conditions. Their demands included a cap on visitor numbers, which currently range from 30,000 to 50,000 people each day. Union members are reportedly considering striking again.

And these aren’t the only changes underway at the Paris museum. This week, it is also opening a new conservation and storage center in Liévin, two hours north of Paris. As Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez oversees a rehang of the collection—that’s why the Mona Lisa gallery was being repainted—he will move some 250,000 objects from the institution’s holdings to the new facility by 2023. Currently, reports TAN, the Louvre storerooms are located in a flood-risk zone.


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