Louvre attracts record number of visitors… thanks to Beyonce

The world's most popular museum, the Paris Louvre, received over 10 million visitors in 2018, a record which it partly attributed Thursday to a Beyonce video shot against the backdrop of the Mona Lisa and other famous works.

Some 10.2 million people visited the museum last year, a 25 percent increase over 2017, which its president Jean-Luc Martinez also linked to a stunning tourism recovery in Paris after a slump caused by a spate of terror attacks.
But Martinez also gave some of the credit to pop power couple Beyonce and Jay Z, who shot the video for their hit “Apeshit” in the galleries of the former royal palace.
The wildly popular clip, which has been viewed 147 million times on YouTube, went on to form the basis of a tour designed by the Louvre that takes in the 17 paintings and sculptures featured in the video (see below).
“The Beyonce clip and the opening of the Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi had people around the world talking about the Louvre. And one of the consequences is this spectacular rebound in the visitor numbers in 2018,” Martinez told France Info radio.
A 60-million-euro revamp of its reception areas and ticketing system also helped the venerable museum, one of Paris's best-known landmarks which was founded after the French Revolution, manage the influx.
The overhaul was chiefly funded by an agreement between France and the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, where the Louvre opened an outpost in Abu Dhabi to great fanfare in November 2017.
Chinese surge
In 2017, the Louvre just edged the National Museum of China to remain the most-visited museum in the world with 8.1 million visitors compared to 8 million for the Beijing gallery and 7.3 million for the Metropolitan museum in New York.
While the French remain the biggest patrons of the Louvre, which also home to the Venus de Milo, foreigners accounted for three-quarters of the intake.
Nearly a million Chinese swept through the Louvre's doors in 2018, making them the second biggest foreign visitor group after Americans, who numbered nearly 1.5 million.
Photo: AFP
“It's a huge leap,” Martinez told AFP, noting that five years ago the Chinese were not in the top five of foreign visitors.
The record numbers cap a dramatic turnaround for the Louvre, which like other Paris landmarks had suffered the fallout of several major terror attacks that severely dented visitor numbers.
The Louvre itself was targeted in one attack in February 2017, when an Egyptian man armed with machetes lunged at soldiers on patrol outside the facility. 
No visitors were hurt in the incident, which saw police shoot the attacker, seriously injuring him.

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New guide to Paris museums – showing only the nudes

There are lots of guides to the visual splendours of Paris' museums and art galleries - but for those with a short attention span comes a new one, showing only nude or erotic artworks.

New guide to Paris museums - showing only the nudes
Find your way straight to the most erotic works in Paris galleries. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

The online guides to the Louvre and Musée d’Orsay museums are produced by the porn website Pornhub and provide a list of the best erotic artworks in each museum, plus directions of how to get there – so you don’t need to waste your time looking at paintings of people in clothes.

The Classic Nudes series has been ruffling some feathers since it was posted online earlier in July, with the Uffizi museum in Florence threatening to sue. Bosses at the Louvre have said only that they are ‘dismayed’, while the Musée d’Orsay has remained silent on the subject.

The guide for the Musée d’Orsay lists 11 erotic artworks, together with a tongue-in-cheek commentary, and a location for each piece within the museum.

The Sleep by Gustave Courbet. Photo by FRANCOIS GUILLOT / AFP

Among the works featured are;

  • Le déjeuner sur l’herbe by Edouard Manet (1863) – which features a group having a picnic in which the woman has lost her clothes (the men remain fully dressed in three-piece suits and ties).
  • Un combat des coqs by Jean-Léon Gérôme (1846) – a nude couple watching a cock fight (that’s cockerels fighting, just to be clear).
  • L’origine du monde by Gustave Courbet (1866) – more than 150 years after it was first painted, the intimate close-up of female genitalia is still making waves. In 2019 Facebook had to pay damages to a French teacher whose account was closed when he posted a picture of the famous artwork.

The guide for the Louvre includes:

Nude young Man by Hippolyte Flandrin. Photo by KENZO TRIBOUILLARD / AFP
  • Portrait of Madeleine by Marie Guillemine Benoist (1800) – groundbreaking in several senses, this painting is one of the few on the list by a woman, and shows a topless black woman, painted just six years after the abolition of slavery in France’s colonies. 
  • Diane sortant du bain by François Boucher (1742) – one of many paintings on the list showing women having a bath, this features the Greek goddess Diana and her favourite nymph apparently surprised by the artist in the process of drying off after a bath. 
  • Le Jeune homme nu by Hippolyte Flandrin (1835) – most of the flesh shown in both the galleries is female (because that’s the patriarchy for you) but here we have a more rare male nude, a study of a young man sitting and looking rather sad and pensive.

As is hopefully clear, the Pornhub guides are explicit in nature and not suitable for children.

Both museums, however, form a great day out for all the family and contain a lot of fully-clothed artwork too. At present both are operating reduced visitor numbers due to health rules, so advance booking to recommended.

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