Sistine Chapel gets AC, lights makeover

Shedding new light on the Sistine Chapel
Shedding new light on the Sistine Chapel

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    Shedding new light on the Sistine Chapel

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Shedding new light on the Sistine Chapel 01:46

Story highlights

  • Thousands each day drag in dust and breathe out damaging carbon dioxide
  • New air conditioning system will use cameras to determine what settings it should run
  • Energy efficient LED lights also brighten room without the heat of incandescent bulbs
High above the altar in the Vatican's Sistine Chapel, Michelangelo's masterpiece fresco is being seen in a new light.
The new vision is the result of a high-tech makeover that includes a new heating and cooling system and 7,000 LED lights.
The lights will serve to better illuminate the paintings on the walls and ceiling, but won't cause any heat damage.
More than 450 years after Michelangelo's death, this is an emotional moment for many.
"I felt very moved and very happy, too," said the head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci.
"Because I got to see the Sistine Chapel like I had never seen it before," he said. "This light allows you to see every little detail of the paintings and at the same time it allows you to grasp and experience the Sistine Chapel as a whole, in its entirety."
Experts hope the facelift will safeguard Michelangelo's centuries-old artwork from the damage caused by increasing numbers of visitors.
They bring in with them dust and sweat. And they breathe out carbon dioxide.
At most times there are about 2,000 visitors in the chapel, which was designed for holding Mass and where Popes were elected.
Carrier, a division of United Technologies, designed the HVAC system. It was a two-year project.
So from now on, sensors and cameras mounted on the wall will count the number of people in the chapel and regulate the temperature and humidity.
And if the numbers of tourists continue to grow, the Vatican says it may have to set restrictions. Six million per year is the limit, Paolucci said.