New App Aids Louvre Navigation

PARIS.- With crowds 10 deep in front of the Mona Lisa, how can a visitor plot an escape within the vast maze of the Louvre? Let the bouncing blue ball on your phone or tablet show you the way.

This month the Louvre introduced a geo-locator application for multimedia devices that can instantly calculate a path through the museum from da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” to Géricault’s “The Raft of the Medusa.”

The app is a key part of a 53.5 million euro, or $59 million, project to make the museum more user-friendly and accessible to its more than eight million annual visitors, about 80 percent of them foreign tourists.

The makeover includes a redesigned reception area, shorter waiting times to enter the museum through the Louvre’s pyramid and a wireless network. There are also amenities like new high-tech Japanese toilets.

Called “My Visit to the Louvre,” the free application, available on iTunes and Google Play, is stocked with data for more than 600 major artworks, a base that will continue expanding and will eventually allow users to calculate the distance of their routes, according to Sybille Clochet, the head of the Louvre’s multimedia service. The app, accessible on the museum’s wireless network, will also let users pinpoint their location.

The same application can also be used to buy tickets online for a priority entrance and shorten the waiting time to enter to about a half an hour, according to Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum’s president.

“The Louvre is a palace and doesn’t have the logic of a museum,” said Mr. Martinez, who stood in line himself for more than two and a half hours before the restoration to experience what tourists suffered. “The little revolution here is that our application instantly gives your location in three dimensions.”

The two-year restoration project — financed in part through sponsors and revenue from the Louvre’s Abu Dhabi museum project — focused on common public complaints about waiting times that can be up to three hours at the entrances and confusion among newcomers who feel lost once inside.

It also addressed concerns about security by doubling the control points to move lines more rapidly. In addition, it created an new exhibition area devoted to explaining the museum’s history and acquisitions.

In the works is another application for musical playlists coordinated with specific artworks. Some of the more obscure artworks are not listed yet on the app, but Mr. Martinez tried out the application on some crowd favorites. “I started with a Michelangelo sculpture and then said I was lost. How do I get to the Mona Lisa? It showed me the way.”