PARIS – The Louvre, the most visited museum in the world, surpassed ten million visitors by 2018, a figure that is unprecedented for a museum of international fine arts and antiques, according to its direction.
“For the first time in its history, and I think for the first time in the history of museums, more than ten million visitors have frequented the Louvre in 2018”, said Thursday at the AFP Jean-Luc Martinez, president-director of Louvre.
With 10.2 million visitors, the Louvre is thus an increase of 25% compared to 2017 (8.1 Million) and beating its own record of attendance (9.7 Million in 2012).
Foreigners represent nearly three-quarters of the visitors, but the French remain the largest nationality (2.5 million, or 25% of the total).
In 2017, the Louvre was followed closely by the national Museum of China with 8 Million, followed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (7,3).
According to Mr. Martinez, the record is carried by the recovery of international tourism to Paris” after a drop in attendance of 30% in recent years because of the terrorist attacks in France in recent years.
It can be explained in part, by the work these last two years that have allowed us to increase the capacity of the museum.
“It has created a new cloakroom, a new ticket office, a new home group inaugurated last year, allowing us to accommodate better and more,” says Mr. Martinez.
The entire work has cost nearly 60 million euros, funded in large part by the money paid in the framework of the agreement with the Louvre Abu Dhabi opened it for more than a year, he says.
The introduction of online sales has also reduced the waiting time, appealing more visitors and spreading the attendance on the day.
The great leap of the Chinese
Among the French visitors to the Museum, 565.000 students: “The public becomes familiar with the Louvre, because after the attacks, one of the first consequences was the limitation of the school visits,” explains the director.
Among the foreigners, Americans continue to be in the lead with nearly 1.5 million visitors.
“Often the Louvre is a big +american museum+ by its attendance, it is a particular love,” said Mr. Martinez.
In the second position, the Chinese (almost one million), the new darlings of european tourism. “It’s an audience that five years ago did not exist and was not even in the top five nationalities. It is a bond” exceptional”, according to the director.
China is the first country on the planet in relation to foreign tourism, with 129 million passengers. Chinese tourists coming to Europe are more fond of culture and nature.
According to Mr. Martinez, the events related in the popular movement of the “yellow vests” – which lasts for several weeks in France, including gatherings in Paris on Saturday – had no impact on attendance, the museum has closed one Saturday: the 8th of December.
If the public, the Louvre is exceptionally young (50% of visitors are under 30 years old), the museum aims to open up to a new audience beyond the regulars and foreign tourists, by launching from the 5th of January a night free every first Saturday of the month.
What is new is that support is offered in some rooms.
“There are people who have a fear of not understanding the museum.This night is to meet this need (…) with explanations, comments, shows, concerts,” said Mr. Martinez.
“It aims to secure the loyalty of this audience who feels lost. Free is not enough, we need the support,” he says.
These Saturdays replace Sundays free whose formula is abandoned for lack of success, the free Sunday to have profited more for the foreign tourists, who saw a bargain.
The Louvre will be two events lighthouse in 2019 to attract more visitors: the 30th anniversary of the famous glass Pyramid of the Louvre, and a new retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci on the occasion of the fifth centenary of the death of a painter which occurred in France.