The Louvre Museum in Paris suffered a drop of over 70% in visitor numbers in 2020, as restrictions put in place against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) kept art lovers away, the museum said last Friday.
The museum reported that receipts fell by more than €90m ($145m) in 2020, compared with 2019. The Louvre, which closed for six months during France’s stringent lockdowns, saw visitor numbers plunge to 2.7 million in 2020, from 9.6 million in 2019, and 10.2 million in 2018, which was a record year.
Visits by foreigners, notably from the US, China, Japan and Brazil, who usually make up three quarters of total visits, all but dried up, especially during the usually busy summer months.
The Louvre managed to limit the damage with its blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, that attracted 1.1 million visitors and ended before the first French lockdown in spring.
The Louvre also used the downtime to boost its digital offerings, with the number of online subscribers growing by over a million from 2019 to 9.3 million, and the louvre.fr website registering 21 million hits.
It also found new ways to raise cash, including with the worldwide distribution of the documentary A Night At The Louvre: Leonardo Da Vinci, destined for film theatres. It also staged Bid For The Louvre, which it said raised €2.4m through the auction of works by living artists and of “once-in-a-lifetime experiences”.
A livestreamed New Year concert by DJ and songwriter David Guetta, part of a fundraising drive, attracted 16m views.
The French government, meanwhile, reported on Friday that income from tourism had dropped by €61bn, or 41%, in 2020 to €89bn.
The country’s Minister of Tourism Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne called the annual shortfall “a shock”, but said that France, the world’s number one tourist destination, had weathered the pandemic relatively well.
“France has been more resilient than other world destinations,” he told France Televison, thanks to visitors from neighbouring countries and French citizens holidaying at home.