Frustrated tourists get a single minute to view Mona Lisa in her new home at the Louvre, Paris

VISITORS to the Louvre who have queued patiently for hours are complaining that museum staff are allowing them less than a minute to view the Mona Lisa.

Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece is the main attraction for an estimated 30,000 people a day - about 80 per cent of visitors to the Paris museum - and staff are struggling to cope.

The Mona Lisa was recently moved from its usual gallery in the Salle des Etats, which is being renovated, to a temporary home in the Gallerie Medicis. The relocation has created bottlenecks of visitors lining corridors and the Louvre is now advising that only those who have pre-booked will be guaranteed a glimpse.

The queue for admission stretches for hundreds of yards outside the glass-and-metal pyramid that serves as the main entrance to the Louvre, the world's most visited museum. After standing in line for at least an hour, visitors now have to queue again if they want to see the Mona Lisa.

Every few minutes, some 200 tourists surge towards the painting, clutching their mobile phones, but museum attendants swiftly draw a rope across the front of the queue to hold back the next wave of eager visitors.

Most pay little attention to the Rubens paintings on the walls, focused only on seeing the Mona Lisa in its protective glass enclosure and taking selfies. Many complain that museum staff give them only a minute or less to view the painting before moving them on to clear space for others. "The staff treated visitors like cattle," complained Xavier on TripAdvisor. "Result: stress to see the painting behind glass from several metres. Scandalous!"

Many are also disappointed that the painting is smaller than they expected - 77cm by 21in 53cm. "Queues were horrendous just to get in and another queue for the Mona Lisa and that was a let down as it is very small and you have to stand quite a way from it to view," another visitor commented.


Vincent Pomaréde, the Louvre's deputy managing director, said museum staff were doing their best but from the autumn visitors would need to pre-book. "A tourist who comes without a booking runs the risk of waiting a long time and maybe even not getting in," he said. "It's the only way to guarantee entry."

The Mona Lisa will return to its usual gallery in time for a major exhibition opening in October marking the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death.

The Daily Telegraph

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