Louvre Says Leonardo Show Will Be Reservation-Only

PARIS — Anticipating huge waves of visitors, officials at the Louvre Museum in Paris have said that reservations will be required for entry to an exhibition this fall to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death.

The Louvre — the most visited museum in the world last year, with more than 10 million spectators — said it would begin offering specific time slots through its online booking service, starting June 18. Adult tickets cost 17 euros, or about $19. Visitors who qualify for free entry will also have to reserve places.

It was unclear whether the show, which starts Oct. 24, would include “Salvator Mundi,” a painting of Jesus Christ attributed to Leonardo that has been surrounded by intrigue and mystery about its whereabouts and ownership. It was sold at auction in November 2017 for $450.3 million to an anonymous bidder who turned out to be a close ally and possible stand-in of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman.

Also, the Italian authorities have not announced formally whether they will lend some state-owned works to the exhibition — the Louvre had delayed the show until October in the hope of securing those pieces. An announcement about those loans will probably be made when President Emmanuel Macron of France hosts President Sergio Mattarella of Italy on Friday in Amboise, in the Loire Valley in central France, on the anniversary of Leonardo’s death there.

The Louvre has imposed reservation-only restrictions before: In 2017, a similar system was used for a Johannes Vermeer exhibition that drew more than 325,000 visitors.

Jean-Luc Martinez, the president of the Louvre, said Sunday that the museum was introducing the measures for the Leonardo show to help control the lines and to keep waiting times to about half an hour. In an interview with the news outlet Agence France-Presse, he said the controls were necessary, “because we must stop judging the success of an exhibition by the number of hours waiting outdoors. What’s important to me is to improve the encounter with the works of Leonardo.”

Leonardo da Vinci grew up in Florence and lived in Milan and Rome before moving to France, where he died on May 2, 1519. King Francis I of France — a passionate patron of the arts — acquired the Mona Lisa from one of his heirs and it hangs in the Louvre, which has more Leonardo paintings than anywhere else.

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