PARIS — One cloudy afternoon this month, the line to enter the Louvre stretched around the entrance pyramid, across one long courtyard and into the next. Inside the museum, a crowd more than a dozen deep faced the Mona Lisa, most taking cellphone pictures and selfies. Near the “Winged Victory of Samothrace,” Jean-Michel Borda, visiting from Madrid, paused amid the crush. “It’s like the Métro early in the morning,” he said.
Seeing masterpieces may be a soul-nourishing cultural rite of passage, but soaring attendance has turned many museums into crowded, sauna-like spaces, forcing institutions to debate how to balance accessibility with art preservation.