Sistine Chapel Gets A Lighting Upgrade

The Sistine Chapel has an interesting history with light. For hundreds of years, it was primarily illuminated by candles, but the smoke left a layer of soot on the artwork, which had to be restored. Preserving Michelangelo’s masterpiece has been of prime concern. In fact, flash photography is still prohibited within the Sistine Chapel for fear that it will harm the artwork.

But what purpose does artwork serve if it can’t be seen? Recently, in an effort to brighten the chapel, the Vatican embarked on a project to install 7,000 light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

Osram provided the LEDs, and it said the installation is specifically designed to protect the artwork while illuminating the space. According to Osram, this lighting installation will also use 90 percent less electricity than the previous lighting system.

Osram believes its installation is a lighting milestone.

“Osram has developed an LED lighting solution that sets standards in terms of technological strength, quality and innovation,” said Dr. Klaus Patzak, Osram’s chief financial officer. “It’s the first such solution in the world and paves the way for completely new possibilities for our clients. We will now rapidly turn this potential into reality.” 

The Vatican Museums’ management is just as pleased with the results.

“The Sistine Chapel contains the most extraordinary works ever conceived by the human mind and is Michelangelo’s masterpiece,” said Prof. Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums. “We want to honor the 450th anniversary of Michelangelo’s death by providing new lighting for his work.”

Typically thought to be a dark place, the Sistine Chapel is now illuminated better than ever. Even Michelangelo was never able to see his masterpiece with such clarity.

Look for a full-length feature on the Sistine Chapel renovation in an upcoming issue of ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

About the Author

Timothy Johnson


Timothy Johnson is the former digital editor for ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine.

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