The Louvre Museum in Paris, indisputably the most visited museum in the world, had to be closed on Monday after security staff staged a walkout to protest the emblematic Parisian institution’s handling of its exploding attendance and conditions they consider “suffocating” and unacceptable.
Thousands of disappointed tourists waiting for hours in line on Monday to enter the museum ,#louvre. were turned away after the guard’s union denounced the “unprecedented deterioration in visiting and working conditions” as attendance, which reached 10.2 million last year – a national and world record – is expected to keep increasing.
The latest edition of the index “TEA/AECOM Theme Index and Museum Index” shows that visitors to the Louvre ballooned by 26% visitors (by more than two million) in 2018 compared to the year before, significantly extending the gap with its nearest competitor, the National Museum of China in Beijing, which welcomed 8.6 million visitors, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which received 7.36 million visits during the year and holds third place in world attendance.
In inverse proportion, as the number of visitors skyrockets, according to the union the number of guards and visitor services staff keeps shrinking. General staff numbers declined by 7.23% while security and surveillance staff decreased by 17.95 %, the union says.
As if that weren’t enough, frustrated visitors often turn against staff members and guards to protest.
“While the audience has increased by more than by 20% since 2009,” the statement by the Sud Culture Solidaires union reads, “the palace has not expanded.”
As they “refuse the transformation of the museum into a cultural Disneyland,” the union is demanding an increase in visitor-services staff and the rapid adoption of a new cap on the number of visitors permitted to enter the museum every day.
The ‘Disneylization” of cultural institutions has been the subject of numerous commentaries and discussions in the French media, particularly since the publicity generated by a Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s music video, Ape**t, which used the museum and some of its most iconic works as a backdrop and has ostensibly contributed to the rise in attendance since last June, when the clip was posted on YouTube.
Due to the popularity of the video that has gathered more than 172 million views, the Louvre #louvremuseum has set up a thematic guided tour following the footsteps of the famous American stars around the museum and showing the art works that appear in the clip.
The large numbers of visitors is also due to the popularity of blockbuster temporary exhibitions like the one last year dedicated to Eugène Delacroix that attracted more than half a million people.
Similar or larger numbers are expected for one of the museum’s most important exhibits scheduled this year: Celebrating the 30th anniversary of its pyramids, the Louvre is preparing an exceptional exhibition devoted to Leonardo da Vinci that will open on October 24 and run until February 24, 2020.
The Louvre also made headlines recently when the architect Ieoh Ming Pei, who designed the highly controversial pyramids in 1989, died on May 16.
According to a notice on the Louvre’s website, the museum – at the moment “exceptionally busy” – will reopen “later than usual” on Wednesday, May 29. “We apologize for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your patience.”
It also warns that “high visitor numbers are expected in the coming days. For this reason, we strongly recommend buying tickets online to ensure entry to the museum” #muséedulouvre .