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  • Da Vinci Code cited in Louvre attendance record
    1.06.2006 PARIS
    CBC Arts

    Author Dan Brown wrote 'The Da Vinci Code.'

    The Louvre Museum in Paris attracted a record 7.3 million visitors in 2005, partly because of the popularity of the book The Da Vinci Code.

    The museum's general administrator, Didier Selles, says the previous record of 6.7 million visitors was set in 2004. He also cited Dan Brown's bestseller, which has been translated into 44 languages, as one of the factors responsible for drawing visitors.

    "There is perhaps a Da Vinci Code effect," Selles told the Associated Press. "In my opinion, it will truly be stronger when the film comes out."

    The movie, starring Tom Hanks, was shot partly in the Louvre. In one of the opening scenes, a Louvre curator is murdered and discovered naked with a five-pointed star drawn on his chest in blood, just under the painting of the Mona Lisa. The murder leads to the search for something called the Da Vinci Code.

    The mystery thriller about secret religious societies, ancient cover-ups and vengeance has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. Readers have been entranced by the book's fictional exploration of some of Western culture's greatest mysteries — from the nature of the Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail.

    The movie's producers are considering hosting the European premiere at the Louvre this spring.

    Some travel companies have offered Da Vinci Code tours with stops at the Louvre.

    Another reason for the spike in visitors may be the free Friday night soirees for those under 26 as well as two successful exhibits, one of Romanesque art from France and a retrospective of Romantic painter Anne-Louis Girodet, which will travel to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, from mid-October through December 2006.

    More galleries have also opened up to the public. In 2001, a quarter of the Louvre's rooms were closed for renovations.

    Selles says one out of every four visitors to Paris makes a stop at the museum.