A trip to a museum is usually thought of as a chance to broaden horizons and learn something new. Bosses at the National Gallery in London take a different view however: they want visitors to swot up on the paintings before coming to see them. The extraordinary approach is being adopted for a forthcoming Leonardo da Vinci exhibition. Curators fear large crowds jostling to read descriptions under the Italian master's works could cause 'gallery rage' among those unable to get a good view. In a statement, they said they wanted visitors to 'come prepared'. Director Nicholas Penny added: 'It is very important that people study our website before they come to the exhibition.' Critics say the request is unrealistic and unfair to those too busy to do the research. They add that the gallery, which is charging £16 a ticket, has failed to appreciate why people go to exhibitions. 'While some visitors want to learn, others just go for enjoyment. It is a social and leisure activity, and they should be allowed to enjoy it as they wish to,' said Maurice Davies, of the Museums Association. Sophie Ellis, an art teacher from Glasgow, said: 'Going to a gallery is a fantastic learning opportunity for anyone. Not only can you see the work of masters in the flesh, you can place the works in the correct context thanks to the information on display. 'When my students visit galleries, I encourage them to take their time and read the information displayed. It helps their understanding and is a key ...

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