The National Museum of China will host an exhibition of the art from the Louvre, it announced on its WeChat channel on Jan 6.
The social-media announcement, which included photos of artworks, was viewed about 80,000 times within a week.
Many left comments declaring anticipation. Some who'd visited the Paris museum hoped to view more of its trove. Some from other parts of the country planned to travel to Beijing for the show, Inventions of Louvre, which opened on Thursday.
The show Inventions of Louvre displays 126 paintings, sculptures and antiquities from the museum's eight curatorial departments and the affiliated National Museum of Eugene Delacroix.
The exhibition reviews the Louvre's evolution from a military fortress to a royal palace and finally to a modern museum that's one of the planet's most popular tourist sites.
The Inventions of Louvre exhibition in Beijing features Egyptian stele. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]
It also examines how its assembly of arts and crafts has been built, researched, conserved and toured as the Louvre has expanded.
The exhibition, which runs through the end of March, expects an influx of visitors since it'll coincide with China's Spring Festival holiday from Jan 27 to Feb 2.
The last time Chinese had such a spectacular opportunity to view French art was 2014, when the National Museum hosted a special exhibition to mark 50 years of Sino-French diplomatic relations.
On show were 10 paintings by eight masters on loan from five renowned French museums. The Louvre brought three pieces.
The two-month show drew 93,500 viewers. The National Museum extended its hours so that more people could visit.
The Louvre's historical significance as the residence of royalty is comparable to Beijing's Palace Museum, president-director Jean-Luc Martinez says.
He hopes the exhibition enables the French icon to "walk closer to Chinese audiences, who contributed the second-largest population of its international visitors in 2016".
The Inventions of Louvre exhibition in Beijing features French sculptor Pierre Julien's Statue of Jean de la Fontaine. [Photo by Jiang Dong/China Daily]
The 224-year-old institution reported a 15 percent drop in visitors last year because of terrorist threats and a four-day closure following the flooding of the Seine River.
About 70 percent of the 7.3 million guests were from outside France. The top five source countries were the United States, China, Britain, Spain and Italy.
Martinez took over the museum in 2013. His focuses have included making more of the collection accessible and improving visitors' experiences.
Patrons can book tickets online and select entrance times, so they can enter within 30 minutes instead of lining up for hours.
The Louvre offers a Chinese guide map, and more introductory booklets will be translated, he says.
The Louvre also operates a Chinese-language website and a WeChat account.
Martinez hopes for expanded cooperation with Chinese counterparts.
"The Louvre houses different categories of art overseen by various curatorial departments," he says.
"Now that good museums are being built in China, we hope that the Louvre collection can tour other Chinese cities and be accessible to more viewers."
Martinez also mentions more exchanges involving museum personnel and scholars.
He hopes for more cooperation with Chinese museums in preserving cultural heritage.
Eternal Sites: From Bamiyan to Palmyra, an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris that ended on Jan 9, showed virtual reconstructions of World Heritage sites destroyed by conflicts in western Asia.
The show supported by UNESCO displayed artifacts from featured locations that are now in the Louvre's collection. Martinez served as the general curator.
He believes it's the duty of France's public museums to safeguard cultural heritage and hopes the exhibition can run in China.
Meanwhile, the Louvre will present Masterpieces from the Leiden Collection: The Age of Rembrandt, an exhibition of 17th-century Dutch paintings from a private New York-based collection, from February to May.
Amassed by American entrepreneur Thomas Kaplan and his wife, Daphne Recanati Kaplan, the collection is hailed as one of the largest private holdings of Rembrandt.
It's reported that the works will later travel to Shanghai's Long Museum and the National Museum of China.