The Louvre Is Bracing for Its Leonardo da Vinci Extravaganza by Introducing Timed Tickets. The Race Is On.

The museum is anticipating unprecedented demand for its blockbuster retrospective this fall.

Visitors crowd around Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Photo: Sabine Glaubitz/dpa/Getty Images.
Visitors crowd around Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa in the Louvre. Photo: Sabine Glaubitz/dpa/Getty Images.

The Louvre is bracing for masses of eager spectators this fall as it prepares an unprecedented retrospective of Leonardo da Vinci.

In addition to the fact that 2019 marks the 500-year anniversary of the artist’s death, the exhibition is the culmination of more than a decade of work, including new scientific examinations and conservation treatments of several of the Louvre’s most famous paintings.

To alleviate overcrowding, the museum is implementing a timed-ticketing policy that “will enable us to manage the flow of visitors and prevent them from queuing,” Louvre president-director Jean-Luc Martinez, told The Art Newspaper. Reservations will be “mainly online” and obligatory for all visitors, including the 40 percent who enter the museum for free. This includes visitors under the age of 18, European Economic Area residents under 26 years old, job seekers, the disabled, and journalists.

Leonardo da Vinci, <i>Portrait de femme, dit La Belle Ferronnière</i>(1490). Paris, Musée du Louvre. © RMN-Grand Palais (musÈe du Louvre) / Michel Urtado.

Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait de femme, dit La Belle Ferronnière(1490). Paris, Musée du Louvre. © RMN-Grand Palais (musÈe du Louvre) / Michel Urtado.

The decision came after the Louvre’s visitor numbers surpassed 10 million last year, making it—once again—the most well-attended museum on the planet. “No [other] museum in the world has achieved this figure,” Martinez told The Art Newspaper. (Around 25,000 to 50,000 people visit the museum each day.)

The Louvre, which has the largest collection of Leonardo da Vinci paintings in the world, as well as 22 drawings, is seizing the opportunity in this year of commemorations to gather as many of the artist’s works as possible around the five masterpieces (The Virgin of the Rocks; La Belle Ferronnière; Mona Lisa; Saint John the Baptist; and Saint Anne) in its collections.

The plan is to place the paintings alongside a wide array of drawings and a small but significant group of paintings and sculptures from the master’s circle.

By the way, if you’re wondering what timed tickets at the Louvre will look like, here’s a visualization courtesy of Jean-Luc Godard:

“Leonardo da Vinci” runs at the Louvre from October 24, 2019 through February 24, 2020.


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