On the homepage of the Louvre’s website, one of the sliders urges potential visitors to buy their tickets in advance as the museum is ‘exceptionally busy.’ On Monday, the Louvre was unexpectedly closed as security and reception staff went on strike for that exact reason stating that the conditions of the museum were in ‘unprecedented deterioration’ due to the exceedingly high volume of guests. The strike resulted in thousands of tourists standing at the entrance of the iconic Parisian museum.
‘The Louvre is suffocating,’ states the Sud Culture Solidaires Union, which represents those in culture and media. The statement continued: ‘While the public has increased by more than 20% since 2009, the palace has not grown. … Today the situation is untenable.’ The ‘palace’ refers to the former royal palace that the museum calls home. Last year, the Louvre set an unprecedented visitor record as it welcomed 10.2 million guests, which was even 25% more than 2017. The uptick in visitors has been attributed in part to a blockbuster Delacroix survey that the museum held last year as well as Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s music video for their song APESHIT, which was filmed at the Louvre after hours. To drive numbers this year, the museum has announced a partnership with Airbnb that would allow lucky guests to visit the museum for VIP tours, intimate concerts, and a chance to stay at the museum overnight. The Louvre has planned to introduce an admission-free day to the calendar each month to take the place of their free Sunday option that has been a part of their programming to alleviate some crowding but that doesn’t seem to have alleviated all issues felt by staff. The museum is also celebrating the 30th birthday of its iconic glass pyramid designed by I. M. Pei, who recently passed away.
Coupled with rising numbers, the union letter cites the overall dwindling number of staff members at the Louvre. In the last 10 years, stated the union, general staff at the museum has shrunk by 7.23% with security and surveillance staff having declined by nearly 18%. With the increase in visitors and smaller number of staff, Louvre employees regularly face verbal abuse from irritated guests. ‘What to say about visiting conditions when people are confronted with noise, trampling, crowds, extreme fatigue and the total inadequacy of museum facilities at such a high volume of visitors?’ asked the union in their statement. ‘The Louvre does not have the means of its ambitions.’
The museum offered its apologies to visitors on their Instagram stating that they expect visitor numbers to remain high in the coming days and that they would only be able to accommodate visitors with appropriate tickets. Those with tickets for Monday are to be refunded. The museum was closed yesterday, as it usually is on Tuesdays, and is expected to reopen today after ‘a general meeting attended by members of the Musée du Louvre’s Reception and Security staff.’ The outcome of this meeting will determine how the union will move forward with their strike according to Pierre Zinenberg, an employee of the Louvre and union representative.
The union letter concluded stating that the museum’s staff ‘refuse the transformation [of the museum] into a cultural Disneyland.’