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.
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.
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.
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.