2018 turned out to be a fantastic year for the Louvre. On January 3rd, the museum reported just how good of a year they had in terms of attendance. With 10.2 million guests, the Paris institution crushed their previous record of 9.7 million visitors set in 2012. The uptick in attendance was a major increase from less than stellar numbers in 2016 following flooding, fire, and a decrease in tourism due to terrorist activities in the city. While 2017 saw an improvement of more than 14% from the previous year with 8.1 million guests, 2018 totals were up again by 25%.
Figures found that during 2018, the Louvre welcomed a significantly higher number of foreign tourists specifically from China, the US, Spain, Germany, the UK, and Brazil. Tourists from France increased as well with over 2.5 million visitors entering the museum from various French cities and towns. With tourism bouncing back, school groups are once again bringing students to the museum’s galleries in droves. In 2018, 565,000 school visitors were recorded. Half of the year’s visitors were under 30 while a fifth were under 18. The museum also boasts a combined 7 million followers of their 15 social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Though tourism, in general, is getting back up to speed after tragic attacks in past years, the Louvre did have some weighty help getting them back into the limelight.
First, because it simply can’t be ignored, Beyoncé and Jay-Z made a bit of a wave at the museum. The Carters came back to the museum to shoot the music video for their 2018 hit ‘Apeshit.’ In 2014, the couple and daughter Blue Ivy visited the museum with Ethiopian-born American artist and photographer Awol Erizku who captured the couple and their daughter with some of the world’s most famous artworks. As you may know, Erizku, well-known for his use of ready-mades, appropriation-based practice and his staged portraits of African Americans, also photographed ‘Queen B’ when she was pregnant with twins Sir and Rumi. For their video, the Carters recreated some of the scenes Erizku captured on their 2014 tour, which centred the couple around da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and a troop of dancers in front of Jacques-Louis David’s The Consecration of the Emperor Napoleon and the Coronation of Empress Joséphine. The video and the museum garnered lots of attention and no doubt assisted attendance throughout the year.
In addition to the Carters, the Louvre’s exhibition ‘Delacroix (1798-1863)’, which ran between March 29th and July 23rd, broke records with a daily attendance average of 5,150 visitors totalling up to nearly 540,000 guests during the course of the show. During its run, 11 free nights saw almost 25,000 visitors to the exhibition. The retrospective has thus become the museum’s most successful show to date.
The Louvre is primed going into 2019 to keep attendance up with more rooms opening up again after extensive restoration that has been going on at the museum. It will also be interesting to see how the museum’s highly anticipated exhibition in celebration of the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death due for this fall pans out. Touted as the most extensive culmination of da Vinci’s works, Italy is working to block a 2017 agreement that would send a number of the Old Master’s works to the Louvre on loan for the show.