The Louvre’s Allure

An interesting factoid about the world’s most visited museum surfaced in today’s New York Times Magazine:

“One study estimated the impact of the Louvre … on the French economy to be between $870 million and $1.4 billion in a single year.”

I know the Louvre is one of the world’s iconic cultural institutions, but the size of that figure surprised me, particularly in regard to tourism. Are there that many people for whom the Louvre is a primary draw in visiting France?

After a quick Google search, I unearthed the study itself, which addresses my question, if indirectly: “We find that 38–52% of foreign tourists visiting the Louvre, depending on the period of the year, recognize the museum as a genuine motivation [to visit Paris].”

That’s a healthy response, but then again, these data draw from tourists actually visiting the museum, so they were obviously motivated to begin with.

I’ve only visited Paris once, about 11 years ago, and did not visit the Louvre during my stay. My motivation at the time was 1) to meet up with a friend then living in Warsaw, and 2) walk the streets of Paris and generally take in the ambiance. Montmartre and the Eiffel Tower were highlights for me at the time.

My next trip to the city may well be prompted by the Louvre, however. After reading about the museum’s new Islamic art wing, set to open in September 2012 under a glass-and-steel flying carpet roof (cool), I’ve been thinking I need to return.

Maybe it’s a sign of age, but it would be reason enough for me now. And my Warsaw friend now lives in Geneva, which is that much closer to the city of light.

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