PARIS (Reuters) – The Louvre museum in Paris will reopen on July 6, it said on Friday, as France's historic and cultural sites gradually emerge from the coronavirus blockade.
ARCHIVE PHOTO: Motorcyclists pass the Louvre museum after France began a gradual end to a national blockade due to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Paris, France, on May 13, 2020. REUTERS / Charles Platiau
In a statement, France's most visited museum said a reservation system and new signage would offer visitors the maximum possible security while in the building. They will be asked to wear a mask and maintain social distance.
"Even if it were possible to discover the treasures of the Louvre virtually during confinement, nothing can replace the thrill of being in front of a work of art; that is the reason for museums," said the Louvre director, Jean-Luc Martinez.
Between March 12 and May 22, the Louvre website received 10.5 million visitors, against 14.1 million in the entire year 2019.
The number of virtual visitors per day to the site has increased to about 330,000, with a peak of almost 400,000, compared to about 40,000 visitors a day before the coronavirus crisis.
The Louvre also said that the Tuileries garden, in front of the museum, will open on Sunday, but games and group meetings of more than ten people will be banned.
Both were closed on March 13.
The announcement follows new steps revealed on Thursday by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe to ease the blockade.
Culture Minister Franck Riester said in a statement that France's main historic sites and museums will gradually reopen between early June and mid-July, starting with the Loire Valley castle, Chambord, on June 5, and the Palace of Versailles , on June 6.
In Paris, the Quai Branly Museum of Indian Civilizations will reopen on 9 June, followed by the Musée d & # 39; Orsay, home of French impressionists, on 23 June.
On July 1, the Grand Palais will start a major exhibition in Pompeii and the external escalators at Center Pompidou will begin to attract visitors to its modern art exhibitions. The Picasso museum will reopen in the third week of July.
Reporting by Christian Lowe and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Written by Geert De Clercq; Editing by Mike Collett-White and Janet Lawrence
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