The Louvre Museum in Paris, boasting the highest attendance figures in the world with 7.5 million visitors last year, is where the world-renown painting of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is housed. Full renovation of a special viewing room for the Mona Lisa has been completed with the cooperation of Nippon Television Network Corporation (NTV).
In commemoration of the construction completion, over 1,500 people affiliated with the French government and financial sectors, European arts and the mass media were invited to a private viewing sponsored by the Louvre Museum on April 5th (Tuesday), 2005. Among those in attendance were Mrs. Bernadette Chirac, wife of French President Jacques Chirac, who commented to NTV President Kohei Manabe, "The Louvre is the world's most magnificent museum. People from around the world will visit to the Mona Lisa room. The contributions by NTV are wonderful." Also in attendance was French Minister of Culture and Communication Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres who spoke words of appreciation: "Thank you for this wonderful gift for Mona Lisa. I believe this will strengthen future Japanese-French relations." In response to these words, Mr. Manabe said, "We would like to continue making efforts to improve the friendly relations we have between Japan and France, and we plan for NTV to promote further cultural contributions."
For over a long span of time, NTV has been forging a strong bond of friendship and trust with the Louvre Museum, who has given high accolades to NTV for setting up numerous exhibitions of French paintings in Japan and for cooperating with the Vatican for 13 years on the restoration of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. When the Louvre Museum requested that NTV assist in renovating the viewing room for the Mona Lisa in order to both preserve the masterpiece painting and to increase viewing by visitors, NTV wholeheartedly agreed in March 1998 to help with the renovation fee.
After four years of construction, the viewing room for the Mona Lisa, previously referred to as Salle des Etas, will now be called Salle de la Joconde. A special independent exhibition wall has been created in the 800-square-meter room exclusively to display the Mona Lisa.
The Louvre Museum's largest painting "The Marriage at Cana" will be displayed on the opposite wall, along with Venetian paintings on surrounding walls. In order to provide the utmost protection for the Mona Lisa which is delicately drawn on a poplar board, a glass research laboratory in Milan created a bulletproof, non-reflecting, temperature and humidity-controlled, and highly airtight glass case. The lighting of the room is set up in such a way to allow natural light to abundantly flow in from the ceiling. Of the 7.5 million annual visitors to the Louvre Museum, 90% say that seeing the Mona Lisa is one distinct purpose of their visit. The completion of this special viewing room will allow more visitors to view the Mona Lisa as well as heighten the security and preservation of the actual piece.
With the full cooperation of the Louvre Museum, NTV will be exhibiting a collection of 19th century French paintings at the Yokohama Museum of Art beginning April 9 (Saturday). NTV also has plans to broadcast programs related to the Louvre and its artwork.
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