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The Vatican plans to clean up Sistine Chapel visitors next year

December 28, 2012|By Jori Finkel
  • Pope Benedict XVI, seated at left, leads a vesper prayer in the Sistine Chapel in October.
Pope Benedict XVI, seated at left, leads a vesper prayer in the Sistine Chapel… (L'Osservatore Romano /…)

Tourists visiting the Sistine Chapel next Christmas can expect a slightly different experience than in years or centuries past, one that just might send chills up their spine. On their way in to see Michelangelo's masterpiece, visitors will step into an area with stronger air conditioning and a new vaccum-cleaning system that sucks up dust from their clothes.

Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, told Lauretta Colonnelli of the Corriere della Sera newspaper that he plans to renovate existing climate controls and install the new cleaning system by the end of 2013. The goal is to better protect Michelangelo's fresco paintings from grime created by the thousands of visitors -- as many as 20,000 -- who pass through the chapel daily.

How exactly will this work? "By laying a shoe-cleaning carpet along the hundred metres leading to the entrance, by installing suction vents on either side of the route to remove dust from clothing and by lowering the temperature to remove body heat and humidity," Paolucci told the Italian newspaper.

"Dust, heat, humidity and carbon dioxide are the mortal enemies of paintings."

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