VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In an effort to protect Michelangelo’s famed frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican Museums will be installing a new ventilation system to suck the dust, dirt and humidity from visitors.
With 5 million tourists pushing through the turnstiles each year, all that traffic is taking its toll as “dust, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide are the great enemies of paintings,” said Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums.
To lighten the heavy human footprint, the museums’ are installing a 110-yard-long carpet leading to the chapel’s entrance to clean off people’s shoes, he told the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera.
Suction vents will line the same path to vacuum hair, dust and other particulates off of visitors before they head into the chapel, and a new climate control system will lower temperatures “to remove heat and humidity from people’s bodies,” he said.
He has said reducing the impact by limiting the number of visitors was “unthinkable.”
The construction of the new dirt-and grime-prevention system has “made a lot of headway,” and Paolucci said he hoped it would be fully operational before the end of 2013.
The museums’ director also wants to sweep away visitors’ ignorance about the cultural, historical and theological significance of the Renaissance master’s frescoes by offering an instructional preview virtual tour beforehand.
Though it’s only in the brainstorm-stage, Paolucci said the idea would be to build a pavilion where visitors could sit, watch large close-ups of the ceiling’s images and listen to an explanation of the artwork.
“One who enters the Sistine Chapel, in reality, enters a huge theological-cultural (game of) charades where it is difficult to guess at first glance,” he said.
A virtual tour beforehand would help the 20,000 visitors a day “understand the frescoed scenes — to place them in time, history and the doctrine that gave them expression and meaning,” he said.
Paolucci lamented the lack of an educational experience in today’s museums because learning “evokes fatigue and study.”
“Ours is an era of fun, time off and amusement; museums have fallen for the mistaken idea that people can understand by being entertained.”
“But without engagement, without effort, it’s useless to tackle this forest of figures we call a museum. People leave exactly as they entered, without any cultural enrichment,” Paolucci said.
Help keep Catholic media free, support CatholicPhilly.com
You may have noticed “pay walls” greeting you when you visit the websites of newspapers and magazines, both large and small. These mechanisms allow you to read a few articles for free before you’ve got to pay an annual fee if you want to see more.
You won’t find a pay wall on CatholicPhilly.com because we’re more than a news organization. We’re informing, inspiring and forming readers in the Catholic faith every day through the news, features and commentaries that we post on this site and share across social media.
It costs money to provide high-quality coverage of the local Catholic communities we primarily serve, while also distributing national and world news of interest to Catholics, plus the orthodox teachings of the Catholic faith.
Help us in this mission by making a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community.
Make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
Or by credit card here: