Photo: Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

The Mona Lisa May Finally Be Easy to See in Person After Proposed Louvre Renovation

Paris News Museums
by Morgane Croissant Apr 30, 2024

It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Mona Lisa is the world’s most well-known painting. It’s one of the few artworks that most people can name and locate without hesitation. Because of its iconic status, Leonardo Da Vinci’s most famous work has been given a special spot within the Louvre: the Salle des États, the museum’s largest room. The 16th-century painting, which has been in the museum since 1797 and only left it once when it was briefly stolen in 1911, has been displayed in the exact same place since 1966, but the museum thinks it’s time to move it, preferably in the basement.

While displaying the Mona Lisa, whose actual name is Portrait of Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, in the largest room seems like the best way to accommodate the huge crowds that come to admire it every day, it only works in theory. Because the room is massive, the painting quite small (1.75 feet in width and 2.6 feet in height), and because the artwork is protected by a temperature and humidity-controlled glass case, it appears to lack the grandeur of its reputation. Also, the Salle des États (room 711 on level one), while able to accommodate hordes of visitors, gets packed and chaotic very quickly, and few people actually manage to spend time looking at the painting up close for more than a few seconds.

Trying to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre

Photo: Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

The idea of moving the Mona Lisa isn’t new. It was already brought up in 2019 when the museum tried to remedy the very same issues. Instead of a move, however, all that was done was changing the color of the walls in the Salle des États, improving the lighting, and ameliorating the flow of visitors. Unsurprisingly, despite those efforts, the situation remains the same. So much so that in February 2024, a study of online reviews conducted by CouponBirds revealed that the painting is the “world’s most disappointing masterpiece,” with 37.1 percent of the reviews analyzed being negative.

Laurence des Cars, director of the museum explains, “visitors have a poor experience in this room and we get the feeling that we’re not doing our job properly.” She believes that moving the Mona Lisa in a dedicated room could remedy the disappointment experienced by so many of the museum’s visitors, of which there are around 8 million every year.

While even the experts recommend that visitors to the Louvre don’t pass their chance to see the Mona Lisa, the museum is acutely aware that things need to change drastically for the painting to be displayed in a much more favorable way and for visitors to enjoy their time looking at it. Their solution is to create a room entirely dedicated to the painting. The construction of such a room, which would be in the museum’s underground area, is no small endeavour, however: it would require building a new museum entrance and would cost a whopping $534 million (500 million euros).

Considering the costs and the work required, the move won’t happen overnight, but in the meantime, you can plan your visit to the Louvre when the museum is considerably less busy: First thing in the morning, if you make a beeline for the painting, and during the night visits on Fridays after 7 PM. No matter what option you choose, purchase your ticket online in advance to save the time and hassle of waiting in line.

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