Vatican City

Vatican readying 'climate control' for Sistine Chapel

No entry quotas, museum director says

Vatican readying 'climate control' for Sistine Chapel

Vatican City, November 1 - The Vatican is set to give the Sistine Chapel a new 'climate control' system to ease the impact of the five million visitors lured by Michelangelo's frescoes each year. The "latest-generation system', to be created by "the world's leading sector firm", will be in place by the end of next year, Vatican Museum Director Antonio Paolucci said on Wednesday's 500th anniversary of the inauguration of the vault decoration by Pope Julius II. Paolucci denied widespread reports that the Vatican was planning on curbing visitor numbers. "Although there are a set of concerns about the conditions in the chapel, we won't be setting any quotas," he said. "There aren't any real dangers to Michelangelo's frescoes in the short term. But all those people, on some days more than 20,000, bring in risks with them: the dust that any visitor carries, the rise in humidity and temperature, and the increased levels of carbon dioxide due to breathing. Paolucci said the museum would unveil the project and name the company "in a matter of a few weeks. "Then, since we have the funds, this new system should be in place by the end of next year'. The 500th anniversary, on Wednesday night, was marked by Pope Benedict XVI celebrating a special Vespers ceremony, just as his predecessor Julius had on October 31, 1512. "It is the light of God that illuminates these frescoes and the entire Sistine Chapel," he said. Benedict cited assessments of the chapel's impact by two of the greatest figures in art history, 19th-century German Heinrich Woelfflin and 16th-century Italian Giorgio Vasari. Woelfflin, he recalled, said: "Out of this immense fresco, there plunged onto the history of Italian and European art something comparable to a tempestuous mountain stream bringing all at once happiness and devastation". "Nothing was ever the same again," the pope said. Vasari, in his famous 'Lives', remarked that "this work has been and is still the true beacon of our art, which has wrought so much benefit and light on the art of painting, which, itself alone, illuminated the world," Benedict said. "Beacon, light and illuminated, three words that must have certainly been close to the heart of those present on October 31, 1512. "But it was not only the light issuing from Michelangelo's masterly use of colour and shade, or the movement that animates the masterpiece: it is also the light of God which shines from these frescoes," Benedict said. Michelangelo completed his crowning achievement, Benedict recalled, when, 20 years later, he came back to paint The Last Judgement. "That work concludes the great arc of humanity's path, lifting the gaze to the peak of a reality of man and the world which is also the definitive encounter with Christ the judge of the living and the dead," said the pontiff.

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