Paris museum gets ready to welcome visitors after COVID shutdown

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: Visitors at the Musee d'Orsay are seen in silhouette as they look behind a giant clock face at the former Orsay railway station in Paris

By Manuel Ausloos

PARIS (Reuters) - At the Musee d'Orsay in Paris on Monday, workers were hanging a priceless Renoir painting in preparation for the museum's re-opening after six months with no visitors because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The painting was one of many artefacts at the museum that were put in storage during the lockdown, to protect them from the effects of dust and sunlight, and which are now going back on display ready for the doors to open on Wednesday.

The museum, on the banks of the Seine river, hummed with activity on Monday as staff brought artworks out of storage into the public galleries, and lifted protective covers off glass cases containing rare treasures.

"We opened the ticket office a few days ago and it seems that the public really want to come back. And so much the better, because we've missed them," said Laurence Des Cars, director of the museum.

"Our mission is to welcome the public and to offer them, in the best way possible, direct contact with the works of art after all these months of computers and screens," she said.

The painting by impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was an 1887 work depicting a girl holding a cat. Wheeled from the storage area on a trolley, one worker held each side to carefully lift it onto the wall.

The French government closed museums and other cultural venues at the end of October to curb the spread of COVID-19. It is now allowing them to re-open after virus rates started to fall. But restrictions remain in place.

In normal times, the Musee d'Orsay can have around 15,000 visitors a day, staff there said, but for now, daily numbers will be capped at 5,000 to ensure people can stay a safe distance apart.

(Writing by Christian Lowe; Editing by Alison Williams)