If you have ever visited Michelagelo’s breathtaking Sistine Chapel in Vatican City, you will know that much of the awe is marred by the shoulder to shoulder tourists filling the surprisingly small space. Tourists who are talking loudly and being shouted at by guards to not take pictures. So when last week the Vatican museum’s director, Antonio Paoluccio, announced that all of the dust brought in daily swarms to gawkers was creating serious damage to the frescos, it came as no surprise.
The fresco damage was first detected on The Last Judgement and nine scenes from the Book of Genesis during this summer. New techniques are being taken to prevent further deterioration including temperature control. The chapel received about 4 million visitors per year.
“In this chapel, people often invoke the Holy Spirit, but the people who fill this room every day aren’t pure spirits. Such a crowd … emanates sweat, breath, carbon dioxide, all sorts of dust. This deadly combination is moved around by winds and ends up on the walls, meaning on the artwork.” Paolucci said.