Florence's Battistero Doors Reopen for Public Viewing After 22-Year Restoration
The 10 biblical scenes of the eastern bronze doors of the Battistero (Baptistry) in Florence will reunite for public display in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo after 22 years of restoration and individual world tours.
Called the "Gates of Paradise" by Michelangelo, "undeniably perfect" by Vasari, and "singular" by Ghiberti himself, the eastern doors of the Baptistry took Lorenzo Ghiberti 27 years. He won the assignment for the northern set of doors in 1401 at age 21 in a contest against the likes of Donatello and Brunelleschi.
More than 500 years of exposure to Florence's high humidity have allowed salts to crystallize on the bronze surface and corrode holes into the doors' bronze reliefs depicting scenes from the Old Testament. The Florentine conservation institute, the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, devised original conservation techniques to resort the doors, using spot lasers to remove impurities.
On the 8th of September, the renovated doors will make their public debut in the entrance hall of the museum, enclosed in a protective case which filters dust and harmful gases from the air and maintains a constant level of humidity.
When the new wing of the museum is completed in 2014 - 2015, the doors will be rearranged in the new wing to allow for a 360-degree view.