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Louvre reopens after one-day closure due to overcrowding

May 29, 2019
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Tourists wait in line to visit the Louvre museum as it reopens, in Paris, Wednesday, May, 29, 2019. The world's most visited museum was closed on Monday after employees complained they were harassed by tourists waiting to see the Mona Lisa. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

PARIS (AP) — The Louvre museum in Paris reopened to the public Wednesday after being shut down for a day when workers complained about overcrowding and walked out Monday.

Union representatives met Wednesday to discuss plans from the museum’s management on how to ease the traffic flow at the world’s most visited museum.

They say the current dispute is linked to renovation work around the “Mona Lisa,” the museum’s most famous painting, which has caused organizational problems, huge queues and the harassment of staff by frustrated tourists.

Unions decided to reopen the museum at 11 a.m., some two hours after its regular start time, after management agreed to bring in 30 more employees on a temporary basis over summer.

“Satisfied is not the word. It’s a short-term band-aid dressing to the problems of overcrowding,” said Christian Galani of the CGT Culture union.

“Thirty extra temporary workers will be hired in June. But what we want are permanent civil servant positions to solve the problem once and for all,” he added.

Unions note that staff numbers have dropped over the past decade even though the number of visitors to the Louvre has risen 20%.

Hundreds of frustrated tourists, some who had been waiting several hours in line Wednesday, expressed relief that they would be allowed into the venerable institution.

Lauren Berry, a 24-year old tourist from Oxford, Mississippi, said that she and her family had already been turned away from the Louvre on Monday but came back on Wednesday in hopes that it would reopen. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.

“We had planned our entire trip around coming to the Louvre because we are huge art lovers,” Berry said.

The gallery in which the “Mona Lisa” is exhibited is undergoing a months-long renovation.

Because the Leonardo Da Vince masterpiece is so valuable, it cannot be moved during the building works like all the other paintings in that gallery. It is currently the only painting remaining in the Salle des Etats room, and tourists are cramming together just to get a glimpse of it for a few seconds.

Pierre Zinenberg, a Louvre employee and union representative, told The Associated Press that the staff can’t work under these conditions.

“Tourists are being aggressive to employees near the “Mona Lisa” because they are being squeezed” into a small space, he said.

A new security window for the masterpiece, which will enable the painting to be temporarily moved to a more practical location further away from the renovations, is expected to be installed as early as July.

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