Soon, you’ll be seeing the Sistine Chapel from a whole new light. Next month, the Vatican is installing 7,000 LED lights around the perimeter of Michaelangelo’s masterpiece 6,135-square-foot ceiling painting to improve visitors’ views of the piece, reports the Atlantic. The LEDs will replace low-energy halogen light bulbs, which were installed in the 1980s to preserve the painting’s pigments but which, as a result, took a toll on the work’s visibility for squinting viewers down below. Last year, LEDs were also installed at the Louvre to better light the Mona Lisa.
Though Michaelangelo was illuminated by light that streamed in from the chapel’s windows while working on the ceiling, Vatican officials blocked off the natural sunlight for fear of its deleterious effects on the painting’s already-fading frescoes. This time around, they will use custom-designed Osram LED bulbs, which will brighten views of the painting and consume 60% less energy (and therefore also last longer) than the halogen lights, according to LEDs Magazine. Michaelangelo’s frescoes are attuned to the ceiling’s curvature and to the previous natural light sournces, which drove Osram technicians to perform elaborate tests before developing the new lighting scheme. According to the Atlantic, “Technicians analyzed 280 patches on both the chapel’s ceiling and its wall frescos, creating a spectrum map of the colors Michelangelo used in decorating the Sistine’s surfaces. From there, they designed an interactive system of LEDs that blend red, blue, green, and white shades of light—each combination meant to optimize the display of the frescos.”
— Anna Kats (@fortunaviriliis)
Image via Wikimedia Commons.