Four of five Louvre visitors come to see the Mona Lisa

Four of five Louvre visitors come to see the Mona Lisa Paris - About four out of five people who visit the Louvre Museum in Paris come expressly to see Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, the head of the museum, Henri Loyrette, was quoted Monday as saying. "It's true that 80 per cent of our daily visitors come to see the Mona Lisa. (The Louvre) is the only museum in the world to have an icon like that," Loyrette said in an interview published in the daily Le Parisien.

He said that the economic crisis was also affecting the Louvre, with 10 to 20 per cent fewer American visitors to the museum.

"It is almost certain that the year 2009 will not be up to 2008, when we registered a record 8.5 million visitors," he said.

The museum is celebrating the 20th anniversary of I. M. Pei's Pyramid, which was a controversial addition to the museum in 1989 but has become "a work in its own right," and one of the Louvre's primary attractions, Loyrette said.

However, the pyramid was designed to admit only 4.5 million visitors a year. As a result, the museum and Pei are considering changes to resolve the problems caused by its success.

"We are going to have another look at the spaces below the pyramid, without changing its architecture," Loyrette said.(dpa)