2014-10-16 14:47:00

Conference planned to mark anniversary of restoration of the Sistine Chapel

(Vatican Radio)  It has been 20 years since the restoration of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel was completed and unveiled.  It was the final chapter in a painstaking restoration of the entire chapel which began in 1980.

To mark this anniversary, the Vatican Museums are hosting a two-day international conference on October 30-31 called “The Sistine Chapel 20 years later: New breath, new light.”

The details were discussed at a press conference in the Vatican on Thursday.

The two-day conference will be divided into five sections which will examine the current state of  frescoes, as well as new methods being taken to protect the priceless artistic treasure.

“We could only honor the anniversary  with  an exhibition, or a series of lectures by the top specialists in the world. Instead,  thought it better to deliver a more lasting memorial, as opposed to something ephemeral,” said Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums.

“We are going to protect, from a climatological point of view, Michelangelo’s greatest masterpiece, as well as giving it proper lighting,” he said.

Paolucci explained the Sistine Chapel receives 6 million visitors a year, with as many as 20,000 in a day.  He said this requires required a “radical intervention” to allow for air circulation, dust suppression, and temperature-humidity control.   

The US-based company CARRIER will provide a state-of-the-art heating, ventilating and air-conditioning (HVAC) system for the Sistine Chapel, specially designed to address the challenges of protecting Michelangelo’s masterpieces against deterioration.

In addition, THE OSRAM lighting company will be retrofitting the chapel with LED-based fixtures to highlight the frescoes. The project will involve custom-designed fixtures optimized for beam control and with a color spectrum that will highlight the pigmentation in the frescoes.

Paolucci said without the new HVAC  system, there might be a “dangerous drift” preventing the proper preservation of the frescos.  He also praised the proposed lighting system, calling it “non-invasive” and “respectful  of the complex reality” of the iconography displayed in the Sistine Chapel.

As for the restoration completed 20 years ago, the Director of the Vatican Museums said it has stood the test of time.

 “How can we forget the furious controversy that accompanied this great project? “ Paolucci asked. “Today, no one questions it, and everyone recognizes that it was scientifically exemplary -  and a technically impeccable -  endeavor, probably the most important and happiest of the 20th century.”

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