Why is the Salle des États (or Mona Lisa room) being renovated?
The “Grand Louvre” project and the Pyramid were completed 30 years ago. Since then, museum attendance has surged to unprecedented levels, with visitor numbers more than doubling. Major renovations are once again required in order to:
– Improve reception of the growing number of increasingly international visitors;
– Bring the Louvre in line with new security, accessibility, and conservation standards;
– Refurbish spaces whose overall condition has deteriorated over time;
– Upgrade the working conditions of Louvre staff.
The museum has therefore undertaken the largest renovation campaign since the “Grand Louvre” project: more than 34,000 m2 of the museum have been renovated since 2014, including 17,579 m2 of galleries and 16,520 m2 of reception and office space.
Fourteen years after its complete refurbishment (2001–2005), the Salle des États—the Mona Lisa’s customary home and the museum’s most visited room—is currently undergoing a new round of renovations.
Renovation work in the Salle des États began in January and will continue until October 2019. All of the artworks displayed in the room have been removed, with the exception of The Wedding Feast at Cana, which will remain in a protective case for the duration of renovations, and the Mona Lisa, which has until now remained on view in its usual location. A selection of Venetian masterpieces normally exhibited in this room has been on display in one of the rooms of the Passage Mollien (room 713, level 1, Denon wing) since March.
Why is the Mona Lisa being moved?
In order to carry out renovations in the Salle des États in a timely manner while ensuring optimal visiting conditions, the Mona Lisa will be temporarily relocated. The painting will return to the Salle des États in October 2019.
One of the Louvre’s largest rooms, the Galerie Médicis is a suitable location for the Mona Lisa as it can accommodate the tens of thousands of visitors who come to see it every day. The painting will be displayed on a temporary wall, inside a temperature-controlled protective case like the one in which it is usually presented in the Salle des États.
The Mona Lisa is a particularly fragile work and can no longer travel outside the Louvre. Even within the Louvre, the work is moved only on rare occasions: it was transferred to the Grande Galerie between 1992 and 1995 to accommodate changes to museum spaces, and to the Salle Rosa between 2001 and 2005, during the previous renovation campaign of the Salle des États.
Due to its exceptional drawing power—it is estimated that 70% of all Louvre visitors wish to see the work—the Mona Lisa must be displayed in a space that can accommodate large numbers of people. The work will not feature in the “Leonardo da Vinci” exhibition (October 24, 2019–February 24, 2020), as the majority of visitors would be denied the pleasure of admiring the work due to the Hall Napoléon’s limited size.
Located on level 2 of the Richelieu wing, in the heart of the Dutch and Flemish painting collections, the Galerie Médicis houses a cycle of 24 large paintings by Rubens that once adorned the Luxembourg Palace in Paris. Access to some works from this cycle will be limited while the Mona Lisa is on display in this room.