News / Arts & Entertainment

Vatican Acts to Protect Frescoes as Sistine Chapel Visitors Swell

FILE - Pope Francis lead a mass with cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican, March 14, 2013.
FILE - Pope Francis lead a mass with cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican, March 14, 2013.
Reuters
Dust, sweat and carbon dioxide brought into the Sistine Chapel by a swelling number of tourists risk damaging priceless Michelangelo frescoes, the Vatican said on Wednesday, hoping a new air conditioning and lighting system will protect them.
 
Some six million people a year visit the chapel, home to Michelangelo's famous ceiling frescoes - one of the wonders of Western civilization that are over 500 years old.
 
The number of visitors to the chapel - where popes are elected in secret conclaves - can reach 20,000 a day in summer. Their numbers have grown by 300 percent from around 1.5 million a year in 1980, said Antonio Paolucci, the head of the Vatican museums.
 
“Today, the Sistine Chapel risks being a victim of its own success,” Paolucci, writing in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, said.
 
“Six million visitors is an impressive number but objectively dangerous for the proper conservation of the frescoes,” he said. “It produces a mix of dust brought in from outside, body sweat and carbon dioxide, which all end up on the surface of the frescoes and can in time harm them.”
 
Work began on the new air conditioning and lighting system on Wednesday and should be in place by October.
 
Michelangelo's frescoes, inaugurated in October 1512 by Pope Julius II, underwent a major 14-year restoration that ended in 1994. They include one of the most famous scenes in the history of art - the arm of a gentle bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam.
 
They also include the famous “Last Judgment” on the wall behind the altar, which the artist painted separately in 1535 and 1541.
 
Paolucci said the current system of air conditioning, de-humidification, dust removal, filtering and micro-climate controls was designed to handle far fewer visitors.
 
The Vatican did not say how much the new high-tech air conditioning system, devised by museum experts and the Carrier air conditioning company, or a new lighting system using the energy saving and heat-reducing LED (light-emitting diode) system, would cost but said they were being donated by the companies involved.
 
In recent years there have been calls for limits on the number of tourists allowed to enter the chapel. Paolucci has said that this might become necessary but he did not repeat that on Wednesday.
 
Under the current system, there is no cap on the number of visitors each day although there is a queuing system.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

Border Crossings

Matthew Wade sits down with "Border Crossings" host Larry London to talk about his new CD, “Diamond from Coal,” his fourth album with his band, My Silent Bravery.