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Vatican Gallery of Maps regains original shine after more than three years of restoration

2016-05-15

While visiting the Vatican Museums, one is sure to have passed through this corridor. But, perhaps as the excitement of seeing the Sistine Chapel was too high, the beauty of this hallway went unnoticed.

This is the Gallery of Maps, which has reopened its doors after three and a half years of restoration, returning it to its original sixteenth century appearance.

ANTONIO PAOLUCCI
Director of the Vatican Museums
"There were 20 young professionals working on it and the restoration cost two million euros, entirely donated by various American Catholic associations.”

More than 150 years after the last renovation, the gallery had been degraded. The paintings of the maps were detaching from the wall, surfaces were yellowed with scuffs, scratches and stains; and dust had accumulated on the stucco corners.

The paintings have been treated with biomolecules, created especially for the restoration of this gallery obtained from the alga Funori from Japan.

For technicians, the cleaning was the trickiest part of the restoration, yet they managed to recover the original color and depth.

The gallery, 120 meters long by six meters wide was the work of Girolamo Muziano and Cesare Nebbia in 1581. There are maps of all regions of Italy. On one side are those that look to the Mediterranean Sea, and on the other, the Adriatic Sea.

ANTONIO PAOLUCCI
Director of the Vatican Museums
"Contemporaries said it was Pope Gregory XIII who ordered the paintings of the maps, because he wanted to visit Italy without leaving the Apostolic Palace. And this is the impression you get when you enter."

It is a gallery where the blue sea, the green mountains and golden roofs, with the peninsula's geometric shapes, are mixed. A place where you can once again enjoy geography, without having an atlas.



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