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Michelangelo Goes Midwestern With Sistine Chapel Exhibition at America’s Center

Michelangelo Goes Midwestern With Sistine Chapel Exhibition at America’s Center

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Photo courtesy of Explore St. Louis

A grand bit of Vatican City is visiting the metro area, with “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” at America’s Center Convention Complex in downtown St. Louis.

Sponsoring the exhibition (which runs till Jan. 17) is Explore St. Louis, otherwise known as the St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission. That organization partners with more than 700 metro area businesses to market both St. Louis and St. Louis County as destinations for diverse purposes.

“‘Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition’ will allow residents and visitors alike to enjoy a world-class artistic and cultural experience right here … ,” Kathleen Ratcliffe, Explore St. Louis’ president, states in a press release about the traveling simulacrum of Michelangelo’s High Renaissance masterpiece. That half-a-millennium-old wonder “went live” on Nov. 1, 1512, after 4½ years of artistic toil.

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Photo courtesy of Explore St. Louis

The exhibition comes from Las Vegas’ Special Entertainment Events, whose own website notes the passage of five centuries had begrimed the originals with dust and soot, greatly obscuring their brilliance.

“It was not until the comprehensive restoration work carried out in the 1980s and 1990s that the true richness of color in the wall and ceiling frescoes could once more be observed,” that website continues. “The exhibition illustrates the restoration and allows us to view the monumental paintings from a distance of only 4 meters [4.37 yards], as opposed to the usual 20 meters [21.87 yards].”

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Photo courtesy of Explore St. Louis

Described on Explore St. Louis’ website as “[a]n immersive journey through the iconic masterpieces that adorn the Sistine Chapel,” the exhibition occupies most of the 27,625-square-foot America’s Ballroom on the center’s second floor. According to the website, the exhibition comprises Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco and The Last Judgment, with certain (post-restoration) modifications necessitated by the display area’s size and other, technical constraints.

“With special expertise and care, the ceiling paintings from the Sistine Chapel have been reproduced using state-of-the-art technology,” Explore St. Louis’ website states. “In order for the observer to fully engage and comprehend the artwork, the paintings have been reproduced in their original sizes. The overwhelming impression for the observer will be the dimensions of the art, the closeness to the picture and the modern style of the exhibition. As a result, the visitor can explore the artwork up close at a distance impossible to achieve in the Sistine Chapel.”

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Photo courtesy of Explore St. Louis

The exhibition allows non-flash photography for personal use. Also, for the exhibition, America’s Center is staunchly observing all requisite COVID-19 health precautions, among them temperature screenings on entry, mandatory masking, social distancing and rigorous sanitization.

Timed tickets for the limited engagement (which may involve extra service/order charges) cost $17.50 for adults, $13.50 for service members/seniors and $10.50 for children aged 6 to 18, with additional packages available for families and groups of 10 or more. The venue recommends purchasing tickets in advance. Admittance generally ranges on the hour, Thursday through Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closing).

An audio guide, in English or Spanish, for use on a smartphone or a device loaned at the exhibition costs “a nominal fee.” Attendees also can purchase a souvenir guide.

America’s Center Convention Complex, 701 Convention Plaza, Suite 300, St. Louis, 314-342-5036, explorestlouis.com

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Bryan A. Hollerbach serves as LN's copy editor and one of its staff writers. He loves to read, write, impersonate an amateur artist and research all things bibulous.

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