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Let there be light: Sistine Chapel gets LED makeover

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Let there be light: Sistine Chapel gets LED makeover

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Visitors to the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel will now be able to see its world-famous frescos in a new light – 7,000 new LED lights to be exact.

Ultraviolet rays were slowly fading the colours of the more than 500-year-old masterpieces by Renaissance greats like Michaelangelo, Botticelli and Ghirlandaio.

“This type of LED lighting guarantees a homogeneous lighting, which is very precise and allows us to understand the Sistine Chapel as a whole and each fresco individually, in minute detail,” says the Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci.

The non-intrusive, energy-saving bulbs have been concealed along the edges of the ledge which runs around the chapel. Positioned to match the frescoes’ pigments, they can be adjusted to different levels.

“This LED lighting, through complex technology, makes the lights emit a solar spectrum which is as close as possible to natural light. So there aren’t any disproportionate amounts of reds or blues. Usually LED lights are perceived as cold because they’re too blue,” says Vittoria Cimino, Director of the Conservator’s Office of the Vatican Museums.

“The light quality was especially designed for this chapel, we had at least 280 different pigments, testing and calculating a new colour rendering index, especially for this chapel,” says Osram light engineer Martin Reuter.

In addition, a state-of-the-art ventilation system has been installed to protect the frescoes from humidity due to the breathing and body heat of the more than six million visitors who come to see the chapel each year.

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