Skip to comments.Sistine Chapel at 500 Years: Threatened by Tourism
Posted on 11/03/2012 5:01:19 AM PDT by SunkenCiv
Michelangelo's Sistine chapel frescoes are threatened by the effects of too many visitors, experts have warned on Wednesday, as the masterly painted ceiling celebrated its 500th anniversary...
Many visitors just stare, tranfixed, at one of the most notable artwork ever created. Indeed, Pope Julius II and 17 cardinals reacted in the same way when the vaulted ceiling was revealed in all its blue glory on the Eve of All Saints, 31 October, 1512, during a vesper Mass.
But others are "drunken tourist herds" disrespectful of the unique setting they are visiting, according to leading literary critic Pietro Citati. The "herds" might soon verify the efforts made during a 14-year-long restoration project in the 1990s, he said...
A 135 by 44 foot rectangle ringed by 12 windows, the fifteenth-century chapel takes its name from Pope Sixtus IV who commissioned it in 1475-83, to give the Vatican a place for solemn ceremonies.
...the ceiling featured only a blue sky dotted by golden stars. Pope Julius II decided to change the rather dull scene and commissioned the work to a reluctant Michelangelo.
The artist worked on the colorful ceiling frescoes between 1508 and 1512, producing over 300 figures to tell the story of the book of Genesis.
The scenes, including the iconic image of the Creation of Adam in which the fingers of man and God are just inches apart, "radically changed the art world," Paolucci said...
More than 20 years later, Michelangelo began the Last Judgement fresco behind the altar, creating a chapel Pope John Paul II once called "the sanctuary of the theology of the body."
(Excerpt) Read more at news.discovery.com ...
|GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach|
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.
I had the opportunity to visit the Sistine Chapel about six weeks ago ... first time in Rome, and all that. The Vatican Museum was packed. By the time I got to the Sistine Chapel, we were shuffling along in a shoulder to shoulder column. It was possible to step to the side and stop and stare, but the overcrowding is oppressive. I hope the curators can find a solution because the only other option would be to sharply limit access.
Are they suggesting that alcohol fumes from the “drunken tourist herds” are effecting the ceiling? Surely they don’t allow smoking or the carrying of coal-burning braziers inside! Are tourists hurling spitballs or soggy napkins to the roof?
To me, it sounds like some people just want to keep a great artwork for themselves, and not allow the hoi polloi to disturb the aesthetes’ bubble.
Does anyone know if there is an “off season” for visitors to the Vatican when the crowds might be smaller?
I took that same picture in 1985 before the restoration. I went back in 1986 when they were in the process. Where you could see behind the curtains it was obvious that it going to be completely different. I would love to ge back an see it restored.
I lived in europe for 2 years in the 80’s. One of the best things about Italy was the access people had to their iconic cultural artifacts. I would be too bad to see that go away.
This is crap:
And the impressionists, who started the disaster called "modern art," only look good in comparison:
Please God, put an end to this hoax called "modern art."
Now, to cleanse your pallet...
These paintings by Bouguereau, representing the height of realism, are what Impressionism, Dadaism, and the rest of modern art supposedly superseded.
Time will be kind to Bougereau. The modernists? Not so much.
“Does anyone know if there is an off season for visitors to the Vatican when the crowds might be smaller?”
Try around March, but you have to work around Easter. The weather is doable barring any persistent low pressure system hanging around.
I visited a Tut exhibit a few years back. It was mobbed during the day, but you could pay to get a limited access pass for 2:00 AM. There was reasonable number of people in the museum, and it was a lot better to be out in the wee hours than to deal with the crowds at noon.
I would willingly pay for limited access in the wee hours. I hope more museums will move in that direction. Whether such options are available in Rome, I don’t know. I was there for meetings and was able to stay over a day. I will be the first to admit that a day is not quite enough time to “do” Rome properly.
***Time will be kind to Bougereau. The modernists? Not so much. ***
I agree. I visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC last spring. Spent way too much time in the Egyptian area and had to hustle through the 1800 European art, bypassed the Picasso crap, stood in awe of Rembrandts paintings. Had my photo taken next to Cabanal’s BIRTH OF VENUS and want to go back again.
Bogereau’s BIRTH OF VENUS is also one of my favorites.
I visited in 1996. The restoration of the ceiling and last judgement were complete but the side panels which were not Michelangelo were still being worked on. The crowd I came in with was mostly school students and was fairly full but not jammed. There was some guy with a staff who occasionally banged it on the floor and yelled Silencio!!! due to rising crescendo of sound of everyone talking which stipped for a moment and then resumed rising in volume. That is what I most recall and it would have been nice to have the din a bit lower. Still worth the visit. I took binoculars to view the ceiling better and that was also worth it.
One of the best things I did was visit St Peters when it opens at 7am. The rest of touristic Rome is having breakfast. The hordes arrive later. There are small masses taking place in side chapels but you pretty much have the church to yourself or very few at least. You have to get up early of course but I got to view the morning sun streaming into the church from the front and that was also quite glorious.
A taxi driver wanted 25 euros to take me from St. Peters to the Colosseum. I looked at the map and told him I would pay 5. We were unable to bridge the gap, so I walked; it took about 40 minutes, there being interesting buildings and ruins along the way. I'm an old hand at coverning Civil War battlefields on foot and at speed, so I can cover a fair amount of ground. Having no interest in shopping and not needing to eat helped as well. But I could still have used a bit more time.
About a month would probably suffice.
LOL. You did better than I have ever managed at MOMA. I’ve been there perhaps half a dozen times and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten beyond the first floor.
Since modern art, in my book, begins about 1300, this is perhaps not a great loss. But still, next time I get there I may have to just embargo the first floor entirely.
I found Rome to be an excellent walking city. Only as a last resort did we hop a bus or take the subway. There’s just too much to see and every turn presents a new and often wonderful vista.
Agreed. Rome is a great walking city, once you get used to the fact that the streets don’t run straight and are liable to change names every few blocks. It takes about a day to get acclimated to that, and then it starts to feel natural. Just hang on to your map ....
My recommendation to anyone headed there for a first visit would be to spend the extra bucks and get a good hotel in the old city. We were near the Spanish steps which was a great central location, but there are plenty of other options. You will pick up a lot just by being anchored in a neighborhood, as opposed to being a drop-in tourista, and you will quickly discover that just about everything is within walking distance. The subway is also easy to use, with good signage.
It doesn't have to be that way. I was also in Rome about six weeks ago. I booked a private guide through Context Tours, which limits each tour group to six people and provide guides with advanced degrees in the subject matter for an academic-like experience. My tour was at 8:00 and included the Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, and St. Peters Basilica. When the doors to the Vatican Museum opened at 8:00 am, our guide led us directly to the Sistine Chapel. There was maybe 50 people -- tops -- in the Chapel, including our group, and we were able to sit on the wooden benches, where the Cardinals used to sit, as the guide gave us a "college" lecture that lasted about 35 minutes. When we walked through the Sistine Chapel again about two hours later to get to another part of the museum, the place was packed like a NYC subway at rush hour.
I will follow your advice. Did you by any chance take one of the archeological tours beneath St. Peters? The crypt level is open, but I understand that one can tour the diggings deeper down, where one gets into the old Roman tombs.
I did not. That’s on my list for the next trip!
Tell you what: if Obama wins, let's flee the country. I'll meet you in Rome ....