Michelangelo Frescoes Could Bite the Dust If Vatican Doesn’t Solve Pollution Problem

Visitors bring dust and CO2. Will The Fresco survive?

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We keep hearing about the dangers of environment pollution, and secondhand smoke, but there is a far darker, more dangerous form of pollution knocking at our doors: dust clouds in the Sistine Chapel. According to the Vatican Museums, the levels of pollution are reaching critical levels, and if a new air conditioning unit can’t stabilize the environment, the numbers of visitors allowed may be reduced. You know that line you had to wait on to get in when you visited? Well, it just got 10 times longer.

Dust, presumably from shoes, and carbon dioxide, has been causing damage to the famous fresco painted on the ceiling by Michelangelo. Indeed, the glowing portrait seen on postcards and posters across the world can seem dull in person, hazed over by dirt. Beneath the dirt the museum has even found elements of the painting they never knew were there.

The Vatican, however, may not be able to shift the blame entirely onto the number of visitors (often 20,000 a day). The last restoration was done in 1990, over 20 years ago. We’re sure someone from HGTV would be happy to film a Sistine Chapel: Renovation special should it come to that.