Spanish Town Opens Botched-Fresco Center

They're trying to revive interest in terrible restoration
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 17, 2016 12:33 AM CDT
Spanish Town Opens Botched Fresco Center
The 20th-century "Ecce Homo"-style fresco of Christ, left, and the "restored" version, at right.   (AP Photo/Centro de Estudios Borjanos, File)

More than three years after a botched fresco restoration by an octogenarian painter became a major tourist attraction for a northern Spanish town, local officials are looking to inject new life into the phenomenon by opening a center that celebrates the fresco, the AP reports. Borja Mayor Eduardo Arilla says 160,000 people had come to see the fresco since the story of Cecilia Gimenez's restoration of a Christ fresco in a town sanctuary went viral in 2012. He says with the new center, the town hopes to keep attracting up to 30,000 visitors annually. Gimenez became a sensation when pictures spread on the Internet of an "Ecce Homo" ("Behold the Man") mural she disfigured while trying to restore it. It was nicknamed "Ecce Mono" ("Behold the Monkey").

"It's to give the painting a new impetus," Arilla tells the AP. He says Gimenez, 85, will be at the inauguration, along with the granddaughter of Elias Garcia Martinez, the little-known Spanish painter of the near 100-year-old original. The new center will bring together stories, photographs, and videos documenting the impact of the restoration. Visitors will be able to see the fresco in the adjoining chapel—and for those feeling inspired, there will be canvases to try to paint your own version. The center will also display the fresco's new official merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to teacups. Proceeds are to be split between Gimenez and the sanctuary's home for retirees. (Heritage groups in Spain say this castle restoration is even worse than what Gimenez did to the fresco.)

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