Sistine Chapel Getting Better Lights
Given the surge in visitors, it needs a new A-C system, too
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 26, 2014 2:04 PM CDT
This file photo shows Michelangelo's fresco "La Creazione" ("The Creation") on the ceiling of the Vatican's Sistine Chapel.   (AP Photo/Plinio Lepri)
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(Newser) – Michelangelo probably never would have imagined: His masterpiece on the ceiling and walls of the Sistine Chapel soon will be illuminated by 7,000 LED lights, reports the Wall Street Journal. Visitors have been complaining that the current lighting is so bad they can't make out details of the artwork, and the new lights will boost illumination by about five times. Technicians have spent a year testing them on various pigments to make sure they won't damage Michelangelo's work. The system costs about $2.4 million, but the Vatican says the lights will be up to 80 times more efficient.

The push for better lighting comes amid an increase in visitors to the chapel in Rome, reports the Catholic Register. About 5.5 million are now coming per year, up from 5 million in 2011, an increase that the newspaper attributes to the "Francis effect" of the popular new pope. One thing the lights won't fix, however: All those people mean lots of perspiration and bacteria that could damage the artwork. A more powerful air-conditioning system is also in the works.