Louvre cuts back on the crowds after totals hit a record

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Louvre cuts back on the crowds after totals hit a record

The hordes flocking to the Louvre in Paris fell to 9.6 million in 2019 as the museum tried to limit overcrowding.

After numbers rocketed by a quarter the previous year to a record 10.2 million, the most-visited museum in the world said it set out to actively discourage tourists in the peak summer months.

“The real change was in June, July and August,” Louvre director Jean-Luc Martinez told AFP Friday, when it “purposely” cut visitor numbers by 600,000.

“We tried to limit the numbers so that there would not be more than one million visitors a month, which happened in 2018.”

To do that, the museum shut down completely for some days during the peak summer season, Martinez said, when the French capital was also hit by a heat wave.

“We are the only cultural institution in the world to do this, and we are very clear with people,” he added. “We do this because we want to welcome people better and not just take more and more visitors.”

The Louvre is by far the most visited museum in the world, ahead of the National Museum of China in Beijing, at 8.6 million visitors, and New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which attracted 7.3 million people in 2018. Internet reservations, which now account for half of Louvre visits, have helped regulate the numbers, Martinez said. Advance booking is obligatory for its blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci show, but Martinez said he did not want to force all visitors to book their visits far ahead.

Some 180,000 people booked their tickets for the “once-in-a-lifetime” Leonardo show in the week before it opened at the end of October. The sell-out show pushed visitor numbers up by 14 percent in November, with the museum now laying on six additional late-night openings to cope with the demand.

“The message we want to get across is that only by making a reservation are you guaranteed entry into the museum within a 30-minute window,” Martinez insisted.

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