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Piece of Paris proves popular as thousands flock to gallery

Date

Julieanne Strachan

The Toulouse Lautrec exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. Click for more photos

Big day out: visitors' reactions to Toulouse-Lautrec

Visitors' reactions to the Toulouse-Lautrec Paris and the Moulin rouge exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia. 

Thousands of people are flocking to the National Gallery of Australia daily to see the Toulouse-Lautrec: Paris and the Moulin Rouge exhibition, with many cashing in Christmas gift vouchers to view the blockbuster show.

On Thursday, visitors from New York, Hong Kong and Russia joined plenty of Sydneysiders and Canberrans to see the works from the renowned 19th century painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Assistant director at the gallery Shanthini Naidoo said about 15,000 timed-tickets had been sold so far, with sessions beginning every half hour.

Alexandra Loney, 8, with sister Anna Loneg, 5, from Amaroo dress up in the Toulouse Lautrec Family Activity Room.

Alexandra Loney, 8, with sister Anna Loneg, 5, from Amaroo dress up in the Toulouse Lautrec Family Activity Room. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

''We opened two weeks ago and we were closed for one day,'' she said.

''It has been a very busy time of year for people and we were closed on Christmas Day but it's pleasing to see such a strong response.

''We had two and a half thousand people on Boxing Day and there are 3000 here today for it and we expect tomorrow will be really busy again in the lead up to New Year's Day.''

Ms Naidoo said the French costumes and craft activities in the Toulouse-Lautrec family activity room had become a favourite with visitors.

Canberran Cathy Webster was in the room on Thursday helping to draw a picture with her granddaughter Charlie Jane Bramah, 4, who was visiting from Hong Kong.

''Charlie has been visiting for Christmas and she is leaving tomorrow,'' she said.

''I have been dying to do this. It has been a tight squeeze but we made sure she got here.''

Irina Hoskinson, of Ryde, took her Russian mother, her husband, Craig Hoskinson, and sons Alex, 12, and Andrew, 5 ,to see the exhibition.

''My mother, Tatyana, is visiting from St Petersburg and we really wanted to see this,'' she said.

''We are very impressed how much this exhibition has because with Toulouse-Lautrec there is a little bit everywhere in the world and this has brought so much together. I was telling my son how hard it must have been because there is a painting on the wall from Paris next to another one from Washington.''

Ms Naidoo said the gallery had sold more than 2000 gift vouchers in the lead up to Christmas which could be swapped for tickets to the exhibition.

''It gives people that flexibility to then choose when they want to come in and book tickets for that session,'' she said. ''It is hard to compare this to other blockbusters like Masterpieces From Paris.

''Masterpieces From Paris was a one-off; it had 480,000 visitors which was the highest number of visitors ever to an exhibition in Australia. The next highest in Australia was 330,000.

''With Renaissance we had 213,000 visitors.

''So far, with Toulouse-Lautrec it's just too early to tell, but all indications are that it will be a popular exhibition with visitors.''

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