UK Da Vinci exhibition aims to keep crowds down

Mon May 9, 2011 1:17pm EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Britain's National Gallery is planning to limit the number of tickets available at an upcoming Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in a bid to reduce the frustration of jostling crowds for art lovers.

The number of visitors allowed in each half hour slot in the Sainsbury Wing will be capped at 180 rather than the 230 permitted by health and safety laws, a decision prompted by complaints of overcrowding in other exhibitions.

"We've looked hard at the problems caused by very popular exhibitions in recent years and decided to take action ahead of what is likely to be one of the most important shows in our history," National Gallery Director Nick Penny said on Monday.

"However, there are limits to what can be done - a drawing with exquisite detail for example is best looked at by one or two people at a time whether it is in a small or a huge exhibition space."

The Trafalgar Square Gallery will add 20 percent to normal capacity through longer opening hours and opening on New Year's Day, helping to offset any drop in revenues as a result of the policy.

The "Painter at the Court of Milan" exhibition will bring together the largest ever number of da Vinci's rare surviving paintings including the celebrated masterpiece "Lady with an Ermine."

Many critics regard the portrait of Ludovico Il Moro's mistress Cecilia Gallerani as the Renaissance master's finest work.

Although the Mona Lisa will not be present, the exhibition will contain international loans never before seen in Britain. Notable works on show will include the "Madonna Litta" from the Hermitage museum in St Petersburg and "La Belle Ferronnière" from the Louvre in Paris.

The exhibition will run from November 9 to February 5 2012 and advance bookings will open on Tuesday.

(Reporting by Nia Williams, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>The painting by Leonardo Da Vinci called "The Lady with Ermine", seems to exert the same sort of mysterius powers of attraction attribuited to another famous Leonardo lady [the Mona Lisa]. Photo taken November 18, 1998. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini</p>