Given the mad rush of visitors that regularly converge at the Louvre to catch a glimpse of the “Mona Lisa,” the museum is expecting a big turnout for its major Leonardo da Vinci retrospective dropping this fall. To ensure that the lines don’t get too long and the atmosphere too hectic, the Louvre is implementing a mandatory policy: Those who want to gain access to the exhibition will have to buy timed tickets in advance.
“This will enable us to manage the flow of visitors and prevent them from queuing,” Jean-Luc Martinez, the Louvre’s president-director, tells the Art Newspaper’s Anna Sansom. “It’s about changing our visitors’ habits.”
Martinez says reservations will be made “mainly online,” and even the 40 percent of visitors who attend the museum for free—among them children under 18, “job seekers,” disabled individuals and journalists—are required to comply with the advance booking rule. The tickets are spaced at 30-minute intervals.
Advance booking isn’t new to Paris’ iconic museum; according to Sansom, one-third of visitors already opt to buy timed entry tickets. And the Louvre experimented with mandatory advance ticketing for two of its recent blockbuster exhibitions: a 2017 Vermeer show and last year’s major Delacroix retrospective.
Crowd control is a matter of growing necessity for the museum. Last year, the Louvre broke museum attendance records and was named the most-visited museum in the world after 10.2 million people flocked to the institution to see its esteemed collection—and, perhaps, to follow in the footsteps of Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
The Louvre anticipates that its “exceptional” da Vinci exhibition will be another big draw. Marking the fifth centenary of the Renaissance master’s death, the show took is the result of ten years of work, according to Eileen Kinsella of artnet News. It promises to bring together as many known da Vinci paintings “as possible” to supplement the Louvre’s own collection of five masterpieces: the “Mona Lisa,” “The Virgin of the Rocks,” “La Belle Ferronnière,” “Saint John the Baptist,” and “Saint Anne.” The exhibition will also feature a large selection of Leonardo’s drawings, along with sculptures and paintings by other artists that will lend context to the artist’s work. New research and results from scientific and conservation analyses will also be presented at the show.
The exhibition is due to launch in October, so there is still plenty of time to get tickets. And as the Louvre continues to ride its crest of popularity, advance ticketing may become increasingly common, Martinez tells Sansom. “I am sure,” he says, “[online booking] is the solution for the future.”