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The National Gallery is expecting such huge crowds to its Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in November, that it will be forced to limit visitor numbers.

Crowd control measures will be imposed to reduce ‘gallery rage’, organisers have confirmed.

Under health and safety rules up to 230 tickets may be sold for every half hour slot of the three-month show.

However, the Trafalgar Square gallery is capping numbers at 180 per half hour to reduce the crush of visitors to its Sainsbury Wing.

The gallery could be denying itself more than £10,000 in revenue per day due to the policy.

Nicholas Penny, the director, told The Times: "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."

Advance booking opens on Tuesday. The exhibition brings together half of the artist's 14 surviving paintings on wood for the first time.

The Mona Lisa will not be there but the National Gallery's own restored Leonardo, The Virgin of the Rocks, will be joined by Lady with an Ermine (also known as Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani), from the Czartoryski Museum in Kraków, which many critics regard as his finest work, as well as La

Belle Ferronnière from the Louvre in Paris and the Madonna Litta from the Hermitage in St Petersburg among others.

The Tate Modern's Paul Gaugin exhibition, which finished in January, made record returns but many visitors said that it was so popular that their experience was ruined by overcrowding.


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