New Light for the Sistine Chapel

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 04:05
Sistine Chapel

After three years of work, the Vatican Museums have installed a new lighting system with LED technology in the Sistine Chapel intended to protect the artworks and provide improved lighting.

The new lights in fact enhance the colors of the frescoes lining the chapel, including Michelangelo’s masterpieces The Last Judgment and The Creation of Adam, as well as works by such masters as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio and Perugino.

The 7,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are perched high on the walls in a rail-like structure. They were installed by the German company Osram, which has said that the LEDs will use up to 90 percent less electricity than the old system.

A new air conditioning and air exchange system was also installed to counter the effects of breath and body heat from the average 6 million tourists who visit the chapel every year that was damaging the frescoes. A closed-circuit television system counts the number of people inside the Chapel to adjust the ventilation and humidity, keeping the temperature between 20 and 25 degrees Celsius and humidity at 50-60%.

"The frescoes by Michelangelo and other great painters will thank us themselves for these installations," Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci said. "The change of air and the control against pollutants together with the lighting will allow appreciation of both the entirety and the details of the Chapel."

The cutting edge lighting and air conditioning honor the 450th anniversary of the death of Michelangelo, celebrated this year.

According to Paolucci, starting in the early months of 2015, visitors will be offered special disposable 'intelligent glasses' to explore the Sistine Chapel in 3D and “go deeper into its history before the actual visit.”

To further protect the frescoes, the Vatican is seeking to reduce both the number of visitors to the Sistine Chapel and the time of each visit.

The interesting video below explain how and why the new lighting system was implemented: