Visitors to the Louvre, who have been queuing for hours, complain that museum staff allow them less than a minute to see Mona Lisa.
The Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece is the main attraction for about 30,000 people a day – about 80 percent of visitors to the Paris Museum – and staff are struggling to cope.
Mona Lisa was recently moved from her usual gallery in Salle des Etats, which is being renovated, to a temporary home in Gallerie Medicis. The relocation has made it difficult for visitors lining the corridors, and the Louvre now advises that only those who have made a reservation will be guaranteed a look.
The reception queue extends hundreds of yards beyond the glass-metal pyramid that serves as the main entrance to the Louvre, the world's most visited museum. Having been in danger for at least an hour, visitors now have to queue again if they want to see Mona Lisa.
Every few minutes, about 200 tourists move to the picture, clutching their mobile phones, but museum staff quickly pull a rope in front of the queue to contain the next wave of eager visitors.
Most pay little attention to the paintings by Rubens on the walls, focused only on seeing Mona Lisa in her protective glass and taking selfies. Many complain that museum staff give them just a minute or less to look at the painting before moving it to make room for others. "The staff treated the visitors like cattle," Xavier complained on TripAdvisor. "The result: the stress of seeing a picture behind a glass several meters away. Outrageous!"
Many are also disappointed that the picture is smaller than expected – 77cm by 21cm by 53cm. "The queues were horrendous, just to get in yet another tail for Mona Lisa. It was knocked down as it is very small and has to stand a long way from it to see it," another visitor commented.
Vincent Pomarede, deputy director of the Louvre, said museum staff are doing their best, but visitors will need to make reservations in the fall. "A tourist who comes without a reservation risks waiting a long time and may not even enter," he said. "This is the only way to guarantee entry."
Mona Lisa will return to her usual gallery after a grand exhibition, opening in October, marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death.
The Daily Telegraph
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