Posted by: faithtravelfocus | September 19, 2010

Sistine Chapel Under Sweat Threat

If there were a list of top ten Christian world travel sites, The Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Rome would surely be on it. But the over four million people who visit the site annually pose a danger to the precious art five centuries old. 

Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, told La Republica newspaper that sweat emanating from visitors is a danger to the art. As many as 20,000 people a day file into the chapel to look up and around at the Last Judgment masterpiece and other works by Renaissance artists Raphael, Bernini, Botticelli and Michelangelo. And they produce dangerous output, he said. 

“Such a crowd … emanates sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust. This deadly combination is moved around by winds and ends up on the walls, meaning on the artwork.”

Paolucci said the works will suffer “serious damage” unless a climate control system is updated. He however ruled out installation of a filtration system similar to the one at the Maria delle Grazie convent in Milan, where Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper is housed. Visitors there are required to walk through the filtration system prior to viewing the work and only 25 can be permitted in during any 15-minute period.

Paolucci told Agence France-Presse that such a measure would “not be right” for the Sistine Chapel.

“The means offered today by science and technology are potentially endless,” he told the news agency. “The money, we will find it. No one shirks for the Sistine Chapel.”

The Sistine Chapel is also famous as the location in which cardinals convene to elect new popes. In the 1980s and 1990s the chapel underwent a controversial restoration which some said was too severe because it made the colors too bright.

Should The Vatican’s caretakers limit visitors to the Sistine Chapel to promote preservation?


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