VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vati-can on Wednesday unveiled new high-tech, energy-saving lighting and air purification systems to protect Michelangelo’s delicate Sistine Cha-pel frescoes from damage caused by ever-growing crowds of tourists.
Dust brought in from outside, body sweat and carbon dioxide pose a major risk to the masterpieces, which are more than 500 years old.
To protect the frescoes, the Vati-can has decided to restrict the num-ber of visitors to the chapel – where popes are elected in secret concla-ves – to 6 million a year.
The previous lighting and air conditioning systems were installed in 1994 – when the number of visitors stood at about 1.5 million – and had become inadequate to protect the work of the Renaissance master.
The new air filtering and condi-tioning system, which is virtually invisible to visitors and uses pre-existing duct openings, moves air at a very slow speed so as not to damage the frescoes.