Sistine Chapel digital mapping to aid future preservation

© Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

ROME – Thanks to modern technological advances in digital photography techniques, a five-year project to digitise the entire Sistine Chapel has begun and it will form the basis for any future restorations of the monument. The highly detailed images will in fact immortalise the Chapel and all its masterpieces in their current state, thus informing on any changes in its state of preservation in the future.
The last time all Sistine frescoes were photographed was between 1980 and 1994, during a landmark restoration project to clean the paintings for the first time in centuries.
Post production computer techniques included "stitching" of frames that photographers took while working out of sight for 65 nights from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., when the chapel is closed to the public.
The set includes the entire chapel, including the mosaic floor and 15th-century frescoes by artists who have long languished in Michelangelo's giant shadow.
The photographers used a 10-metre-high (33 feet) portable scaffold and special telescopic lens. The results are now stored in a Vatican server holding 30 terabytes of information.
Michelangelo finished the ceiling in 1512 and painted the massive "Last Judgment" panel behind the altar between 1535 and 1541.