Paris: The world's most famous painting, the "Mona Lisa", is to be moved so her room in the Louvre can be spruced up, the Paris museum said on Friday. Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece will be carried less than "100 paces" to the adjoining Medici gallery during the night of July 16, the museum's director Jean-Luc Martinez told AFP.
The fragile 500-year-old painting is very rarely handled, and will remain protected by bulletproof glass in its temporary home. The portrait of a Florentine noble will be returned to her spot in the States Room just before a blockbuster Leonardo exhibition opens at the world's biggest museum in October. The Louvre holds the largest collection of the Italian artist's work.
Martinez said the move was part of an immense rolling renovation of the museum, which is struggling to cope with more than 10 million visitors a year.
Thousands of people each day pass through the room in which the painting is shown opposite Paolo Veronese's giant canvass, "The Wedding Feast at Cana". It has been sealed inside protective wooden shuttering while the work goes on. "The population of a town" passes every day through the room, said Martinez, which hasn't been redecorated since the early 2000s. He said the "Mona Lisa" will stay in original place for the Leonardo show, from Oct 24, as hanging it with the polymath's other works would have caused such bottlenecks that visitor numbers would have to be limited.