On July 6, Paris' Louvre Museum reopened after being closed for several months amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. However, art enthusiasts that traveled to the famous institution to view Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa and other well-known works were met with quite a different experience than they would have previously had before the spread of COVID-19 as they visited the gallery space.

The Monday that the Louvre reopened its doors, only 7,000 people with reserved tickets entered the space, according to Artnet News. While the museum, which originally opened in 1793, typically accommodates 30,000 people each day, the drop in visitors did not come as a surprise to the institution due to the fact that 75% of the museum's guests typically come from overseas. As a result, the Louvre has indicated that staffers are expecting smaller groups for the foreseeable future as they work towards targeting more localized crowds.

READ: Was Mona Lisa's Smile Genuine? Scientists Have Reason To Believe That It Wasn't

After the closure, which marked the longest time that the Paris art museum had closed its doors since World War II, some were pleasantly surprised by what they experienced upon entering the famous building. When speaking to the publication, a patron named Steve recounted a more pleasant visit than initially anticipated. 

"We think it was nice and not so crowded because they don’t have so many international tourists yet," he told Artnet News.

 

These sentiments were also echoed by Lily Heise, a travel writer who lives in Paris, who stated that she immediately reserved her ticket to avoid the "unbearable" crowds that tend to fill the Louvre during the summer months. This, she said, made the idea of the visit "all the more desirable." To this point, she added that the "quieter sections of the museum were blissfully peaceful and you could almost feel like you had the museum to yourself." 

However, conflicting accounts emerged about what it was like to view the Mona Lisa upon the grand reopening. While some Twitter users reportedly stated that it was possible to view da Vinci's art without the "chaotic mob," Cristina Birsan, an administrator at a Parisian university, said that the intimate atmosphere that she had been hoping for wasn't there. 

To chronicle the time within the famous museum, Egyptian-American filmmaker Sam Abbas documented those first days in his new short called "Rusted Caravaggios." 

"This is an experience I’ll never forget nor do I think will ever happen again. To be present in a nearly empty space that is usually mobbed with visitors from my understanding was very surreal. My first Louvre experience has been largely unique to say the least," Abbas said when speaking about his experience, as reported by Deadline

As for what changes those who went inside the Louvre experienced as a result of the coronavirus shutdown, each person was required to wear a face mask, social distancing markers adorned the floor, and hand-sanitizing stations were located throughout the spaces. Additionally, 30% of the museum remains closed. 

Those who cannot travel to see the famous artwork for themselves can take a virtual tour of the museum from the safety of their own home. 

The Louvre museum mona lisa The Louvre, the world's most visited museum, reopened with nearly a third of its galleries shut and crowding banned around the "Mona Lisa" and other masterpieces. Photo: AFP/FRANCOIS GUILLOT