Officials of the Vatican Museums have carried out measures that will not only preserve the Sistine Chapel's remarkable fresco masterpieces in the present times, but will also prepare the site for future restoration.
Photographers have produced 270,000 digital photos of the interiors of the Sistine Chapel on 65 nights in a span of five years. The pictures include the chapel's mosaic floor and the frescoes painted by Michelangelo, as well as those made by other 15th century artists.
The benchmark photos will serve as an initial step for the chapel's future restoration projects.
Future Restoration Efforts
"In the future, this will allow us to know the state of every centimeter of the chapel as it is today, in 2017," said Antonio Paolucci, former director of the Vatican Museums.
According to Reuters, more than 220 pages at a 1:1 scale of the stunning images have been produced in hard copy.
"We used special post-production software to get the depth, intensity, warmth and nuance of colors to an accuracy of 99.9 percent," Giorgio Armaroli, Scripta Maneant's head, stated.
The Sistine Chapel's picturesque frescoes, including Michelangelo's famous historical masterpieces The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgment, had become part of the new 870-page, three-volume set that was printed. These digitized images were sold to libraries and collectors.
Vatican Battling Frescoes' Damage
The Vatican revealed that the swarm of tourists visiting the chapel every day has damaged the surface of the chapel's frescoed ceilings.
Ulderico Santamaria, the Vatican Museums' restoration officer, explained that powdery patina was found particularly in areas where there was higher water absorption on the chapel's walls due to humidity.
The humidity is an aftermath of air pollution on site, set off and exacerbated by more than 6 million chapel visitors coming in annually.
To address the Sistine Chapel's growing concern, Connecticut-based company Carrier installed a new air cooling and filtering system with three cameras that can calculate the number of people and, consequently, manipulate the temperature level and humidity inside the chapel.
The ventilation system allowed nearly 2,000 visitors to enter the chapel, without compromising the protection used on the chapel's well-known art works against humidity's destructive effects.
Enhancing Tour Experience At Sistine Chapel
The Vatican Museum has also attached 7,000 energy-saving lamps to light up the corners of the chapel and enhance the Sistine Chapel touring experience.
In 2015, the museum also offered "intelligent glasses" or 3D glasses to visitors for a view of the chapel in 3D.
Although Vatican Museum officials made the effort to improve people's visiting experience, they remain committed to protecting the Sistine Chapel as an artistic and architectural marvel. They have set a limit of only 20,000 tourists allowed at the chapel each day.
The preservation of the Sistine Chapel's frescoes will continue in the coming years, all with the help of digital photography.
"Future restorers will use these as their standards," Armaroli said.
Photo: Dennis Jarvis | Flickr