The Louvre museum in Paris has been closed since October due to the coronavirus pandemic – but its staff are using the closure as an opportunity to spruce up its artworks and exhibitions.
While art lovers and tourists will have to wait to roam its halls and corridors once again, when they are able to enter they will find France’s most famous art museum has undergone a refurbishment.
In 2019, 9.6 million people walked through its galleries – and its popularity actually made it hard for the museum to undertake necessary upgrades and redecorations without disturbing the experience for visitors.
Therefore curators and restorers are hard at work, re-modelling the museum.
Since the museum’s second closure on October 30, about 250 employees and outside contractors have come into work each day.
Among them is Elisabeth Antoine-Konig, head curator of the artifacts department.
“We are working on the ten-yearly inventory of our works of art which is the counting of each physical artifact and we check what state they’re in and see whether some might need to be restored. We keep a close eye on the physical condition of our collection,” she says.
“When the museum reopens, everything will be perfect for its visitors – this Sleeping Beauty will have had the time to powder her nose.”
There are kilometres of empty galleries, unmanned ticket booths and silent bookshops.
But in the Grand Gallery, restorers are industriously working on top of scaffolding.
They have been ‘sounding’ the walls, peeling back layer after layer of paint, seeing what lies beneath from previous centuries.
In total, ten large-scale projects – on hold since March last year and the first lockdown – are under way and progressing fast.
“What my colleagues usually say is I’m the happiest man in the museum because my job as maintenance and works manager is probably the least impacted by the sanitary crisis that we’re going through,” says Laurent le Guédart, director of the architectural heritage and gardens department.
“We’re taking advantage of the museum’s closure to carry out a number of major works, speed up maintenance operations and start repair works that are difficult to schedule when the museum is operating normally.”