The Louvre museum in Paris has announced that it will open its doors for free one Saturday night a month to attract younger and less affluent visitors.
As the world’s most-visited museum, the Parisian institution plans to reinvigorate its visitorship by making it more diverse. The program intends to draw greater crowds of local visitors from lower-income suburbs of Paris, youth, and families and expects to do so by completely foregoing its €17 (~$19) admission fee. According to AFP, they are referring to the program as a “democratization.”
The first free night at the museum will start with the new year, inaugurating on January 5th, 2019. The event, which runs one Saturday a month between 6 pm and 8:45 pm, will have a board game area and reading corner to appeal to a younger crowd and families.
Originally, the museum had launched a program offering free admission on six Sundays a year, but the program was still not inviting enough diversity. The main people benefiting were tourism operators who cashed in by ferrying foreigners through the Louvre – a compulsory stop in any case – for free on these particular Sundays.
“Working-class visits were not going up,” the museum wrote in a statement. “The number of French visitors coming to the Louvre for the first time was dropping during these free Sundays, while the number of foreign visitors was going up considerably.”
The museum, which was recently home to Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s infamous “Apeshit” video, is home to iconic masterpieces like the famous “Mona Lisa,” (featured below), the “Venus de Milo,” and “Liberty Leading the People," the 1830 oil painting by French artist Eugène Delacroix commemorating the July Revolution in Paris.
The Louvre recorded a salient increase in visitor attendance from January to December 2017, with 8.1 million visitors, after a drastic drop in tourism in 2016 in the wake of the terrorist attacks and the flooding of the Seine in June. In a year marked by the opening of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the recovery of tourism in Paris and the ongoing renovation of the Louvre’s permanent collections, attendance at the Louvre picked up again, with the exhibition “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” attracting many domestic as well as international visitors.