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18 interesting facts about the restoration in the Vatican, which you probably did not know

Restorers who annually clean frescoes in the Sistine Chapel need liters of distilled water and kilograms of Japanese paper. The "health" of the most expensive works of art in the world is monitored by "night elves" that tourists do not see. On the walls painted by Michelangelo, you can find the secret "witnesses". The walls of the Belvedere Palace in the Vatican are painted with milk from special papal cows. The destruction of the marble statues in the gardens is prevented with the help of thyme and oregano.Here are 18 interesting facts about how the Vatican cares for works of art. The restoration team cleans the Sistine Chapel frescoes every year for a month. However, thousands of tourists who visit the hall daily do not see these specialists. The fact is that the experts come to the chapel at 5:30 pm - after all the visitors have left it - and work until midnight.
2. Scaffolding must be erected every night and then dismantled. They can not lean on the walls, otherwise there is a risk of damage to the murals.
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti, a fragment of the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Eritrean Sibyl
  • Michelangelo Buonarroti, a fragment of the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Prophet Daniel
3. Experts rattle the walls to make sure that the plaster does not separate from the masonry. They also check if the paint layer doesn’t peel off.
4. One of the biggest problems of the Sistine Chapel - moisture and salt from human bodies, deposited on the paintings of the XV-XVI centuries. Each of the 25 thousand day visitors heats the room like a 80 watt light bulb.
5. The salt layer is removed with distilled water and fine Japanese paper. A thin film of water that absorbs salt is applied to the surface of paintings with a brush. Then the solution is blotted with paper.Last Judgment, a general view of Michelangelo Buonarroti1530s, 137 × 120 cm6. To measure the temperature, air circulation and the number of visitors in the Sistine Chapel placed 30 hidden sensors. The temperature in the room should remain between 22 and 24 degrees Celsius, and the humidity - from 55 to 60 percent.

7. For centuries, it was believed that Michelangelo used dark, muted tones. However, during the restoration, which began in 1990, it became clear that this is only a collection of soot and dirt. In fact, the artist painted the walls with bright green, purple and red paints.
8. In some pictures you can see small black marks - squares and triangles. These are the so-called “witnesses”, deliberately left so that future restorers could see how dark the images were.
Left: Michelangelo Buonarroti, a fragment of the Sistine Chapel. The Last Judgment, the second ring of characters (left side)

9. To make sure that the colors do not lose their brightness, the frescoes are removed using a multi-wave camera, and then computer analysis of the images is performed with pixel accuracy. The procedure is repeated every six months and allows specialists to detect any changes before they are visible to the human eye.Belvedere Palace in the Vatican. Photo: subratachak10. The Belvedere Palace in the Vatican (now the Pio Clementino Museum is located there), built in the era of the High Renaissance, repainted with milk. This is not a nostalgia for the past. Just an old recipe turned out to be more resistant than modern synthetic paints.

11. Milk is given by cows that are grown at the Pope’s summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, near Rome. It is mixed with slaked lime and natural pigments to get the original cream color, which the walls were painted back in the 1500s.
12. Using these technologies, restorers are guided by Pope Francis Encyclical on the environment. Such methods are harmless for people and for the environment as a whole.
Left: an exclusive product - Papal Cows milk, produced in limited quantities under the brand name Ville Pontificie (“Papal Villa”). Photo: CNN

13. In the gardens of the Vatican there are 570 statues and other marble structures. Essential oils are used to remove fungi and bacteria that slowly destroy works.
14. The search for an environmentally sound solution to the problem was preceded by several years of research. Their results were announced by the Vatican at an international conference in October 2017.
15. Scientists have found that the essences of oregano and thyme prevent the biological destruction of marble. However, they do not harm the works of art and the health of people working with them.The statue of Apollo, playing the kithara, in the gardens of the Vatican - before and after cleaning. Photo: vatican-patrons.org16. Herbs are grown and produce oil certified farms in Sicily.
17. To care for works of art, the Vatican prefers to hire people rather than use computers, despite the fact that human labor is more expensive. Restoration of artwork and architecture requires technical skill and many years of experience that machines cannot duplicate. 18. The permanent staff of the Vatican Museums, responsible for the purification and restoration of ancient works of art and buildings, has only 100 people. They work for six million tourists who visit the city-state every year. Arthiv: read us in Telegram and see Instagram on CNN materials. Main Illustration: Fragment of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, photo - Emaze.com