Oct 17, 2014

By Andy Johnson

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The Vatican will restrict the number of visitors to the Sistine Chapel to 6 million a year In order to protect Michelangelo’s delicate frescoes from damage caused by ever-growing crowds of tourists. Visitors to the chapel, where popes are elected in secret conclaves, can reach 20,000 a day in summer, with up to 2,000 people inside at a time. Dust brought in from outside, body sweat and carbon dioxide pose a major risk to Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes, which are more than 500 years old. They include one of the most famous scenes in the history of art: the arm of a gentle bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam. To protect the work of the Renaissance master, the Vatican has installed a new climate control system that will filter the air in the chapel. As well, a new high-tech lighting system will cut damaging heat by more than half.

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