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Time to Go, Mona Lisa

Columnist Jason Farago is tired of the selfie throngs at the Louvre
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 7, 2019 7:50 AM CST
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Tourists wait to see Leonardo da Vinci's painting Mona Lisa, at the Louvre museum, in Paris, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019.   (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

(Newser) – The Louvre needs to give the Mona Lisa her walking papers, argues Jason Farago in a New York Times op-ed. The painting is "the Kim Kardashian of 16th-century Italian portraiture" and "only moderately interesting" as a work of art, he writes. But you wouldn't know that by the selfie-snapping throngs that pack its gallery in the Paris museum. To get there, "you must line up in a hideous, TSA-style snake of retractable barriers that ends about 12 feet from the Leonardo—which, for a painting that’s just two and a half feet tall, is too far for looking," he writes. "My fellow visitors and I could hardly see the thing, and we were shunted off in less than a minute." Meanwhile, genuine masterpieces elsewhere in the Louvre—even in the same gallery—get relatively scant attention.

"If curators think that they are inspiring the next generation of art lovers, they are in fact doing the opposite," Farago writes. "People come out of obligation, and leave discouraged." Polls back this up, with tourists consistently ranking their visit to see the painting as a disappointment. Farago's solution to all this? Move the painting out of the Louvre. Build a separate pavilion for it nearby, perhaps even connected. As it stands now, the "Mona Lisa is a security hazard, an educational obstacle, and not even a satisfying bucket-list item," complains Farago. "It is time for the Louvre to admit defeat. It is time for the Mona Lisa to go." (Read the full column.)

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