A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office during which the director of the Vatican Museums, Professor Antonio Paolucci, presented the international congress “The Sistine Chapel, twenty years on: new breath, new light”, which will take place from 30 to 31 October.
The congress coincides with the 20th anniversary of the inauguration of the Sistine Chapel by St. John Paul II following the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescoes by the experts Fabrizio Mancinelli and Gianluigi Colalucci, and with the 450th anniversary of the death of celebrated artist.
During the congress, information will be given on the new air conditioning and lighting systems in the Sistine Chapel, put into effect during the last three years.
Professor Paolucci explained that the great influx of visitors – more than six million each year with peaks of more than twenty thousand each day – necessitated “a radical intervention guaranteeing the circulation of air, the reduction of dust and other contaminants, temperature and humidity control and an acceptable level of carbon dioxide, factors that, in the long term, may pose a threat to the conservation of mural paintings, in this case the 2500 square metres that constitute the most important artistic anthology of the Italian Renaissance”.
A new lighting system was also necessary, to provide gentle but total illumination, non-invasive and respecting the complex iconographic, stylistic and historic reality of the Sistine Chapel.
This involved no special “spotlight” on Michelangelo, but instead providing the possibility of a calm, objective and at the same time delicate observation of every detail of “this great catechism that three popes – Sixtus IV, Julius II and Paul III – wished to display along the walls and on the ceiling of the ‘chapel of the world’”.