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Transforming the Louvre in Uncertain Times

Transforming the Louvre in Uncertain Times

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You’d think with all the attention of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code traffic would be higher. Regardless, a trip to Paris to tour a less busy Louvre sounds like a nice idea.

As they decided to go for it, the museum’s managers may have shuddered. In January and February, museum attendance sagged by 11 percent. Later, the number of visitors rose by 1 percent in April, and by 2 percent in May over the corresponding months of 2008 — a record year. If this goes on, 2009 might turn out to be quite good. But a more worrying uncertainty hangs over future donations and maecenas operations (art acquisitions made by corporations, which knock off 90 percent of the expenditure from their yearly taxation). Yet, even that is a comparatively small problem, for art acquisitions represent a mere fraction of the Louvre outlay. Greater difficulties loom. Since 2001, the museum has achieved a measure of financial independence. In 2008, only 47 percent of its expenditure was covered by government grants. The balance came from the museum’s income generated by ticketing, partnerships with foreign museums, space rentals for corporate events, and other sources, all of which could be threatened by deteriorating economic conditions. And any decrease in the government grant would spell out big trouble. – from NYTimes

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