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27 Mar, 2023 21:08

Home of Mona Lisa shuts doors in protest

Striking staff at the Louvre joined demonstrators to block the entrance to the iconic museum
Home of Mona Lisa shuts doors in protest

Workers at the Louvre Museum in Paris teamed up with pension reform protesters to block the entrance to the museum on Monday. Dozens of protesters, many of them Louvre employees, gathered outside the famous glass pyramid, holding trade union flags and blocking an entrance to the famous site.

The Louvre is one of the world's most visited museums, taking in over 7 million visitors last year. It houses priceless artworks such as Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and Caravaggio’s ‘Death of the Virgin’.

France has been consumed by protests and riots since the government hiked the retirement age earlier this month. More widespread demonstrations are planned for Tuesday, but as the museum is usually closed on Tuesdays, staff there demonstrated a day early.

Video footage shared online showed small groups of protesters walking through the museum’s subterranean entrance hall.

“Join us to support the Mona Lisa on strike,” the CGT trade union declared on Twitter. A follow-up tweet by the union featured an image of an aged and wrinkled Mona Lisa, with a caption reading “64, it’s a no!”

Cities across France have been rocked by protests – some of them devolving into rioting and arson – since President Emmanuel Macron’s government bypassed parliament to pass a bill raising the retirement age for most workers from 62 to 64. 

More than a million people took to the streets last Thursday, according to government figures. In Paris, hundreds were arrested after clashing with riot police and setting fires in the streets of the capital.

Macron has insisted that he will press ahead with the highly unpopular reforms. Talks between Prime Minister Elizabeth Borne, labor unions and opposition politicians began this week, but like Macron, Borne has stressed that the government has no intention of abandoning the legislation.