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What did they use to clean the Sistine Chapel?


I’m in Italy for a bout two weeks seeing friends, family, business associates and consulting. We’re in Rome to start off with and yesterday we went to Tivoli which is just outside of Rome. It has been a get away location for Roman emperors and Renaissance princes. The wonderful Villa D’Este and its gardens are one of the main attractions. In fact, I’ll probably put together a quick video about the visit. Just outside the entrance of the Villa D’Este is a church attached to the palace (Ever wonder why theUSA forefathers wanted a separation of church and state?!) and while passing we stepped inside. Nothin’ to write home about if you know what you are looking at. But there was a side chapel under going a cleaning. Wow! Is it dirty. Here’s a shot of it being cleaned…

Italian Chapel with 300 years of candle smoke being cleaned

350 years of candle smoke being removed

Notice the white clean part in the upper stucco/ frame borders? Notice the gray overall colorless look? What a difference.

The question I got asked by the people that were with me was, “What are they using to clean it? Are they using spit?” I though that was kind of a funny question.

The cleaning is probably not difficult and they may be utilizing a solution with ammonium bicarbonate in a water based gel form. Its not an off-the-shelf product but a common long standing recipe that was used in cleaning the Sistine Chapel. The cleaning solution wasn’t new or invented for the Sistine Chapel. Its been used in Italy for cleaning affrescos for decades. So, there you go. Wasn’t that exciting? Now you know. But look at the difference in the cleaning in the photo. It’s extreme! I still can’t understand how the noise makers that were not in favor of the cleaning of the Sistine Chapel ceiling could have expected anything less than a brilliantly colored result.

What you may find interesting though is the quick video I’ll put together in the next few days of my visit to the actual Sistine Chapel, the Vatican and our climb inside the dome to the top for a view. So stay tuned. In fact, sign up in the side bar for updates and you’l be notified when I make new postings.

If you thought this was interesting, give this post a THUMBS UP, please. Have you been to Italy? What did you see?

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About Scott M. Haskins

Scott Haskins has been in professional art conservation since 1975, specializing in the conservation/restoration of easel paintings, murals and art on paper. FACL, Inc. is known nationally for doing A+ work no matter the size or difficulty of the project. We are happy to do a quick cleaning on a family heirloom. Our client list and resume is also full of very satisfied clients of large, difficult/complicated projects at remote locations. Excellent services are also available as an Expert Witness/Legal Testimony in art related matters. Consultation on art related projects occur regularly including extensive insurance evaluations for insured or insurer. Services are offered worldwide. Scott M. Haskins is also author of the "Save Your Stuff" series, educational information, materials and supplies to help people protect and save their treasured family heirlooms and collectibles at home and office. He can be reached at 805 564 3438. Video and written testimonials at http://www.fineartconservationlab.com/testimonials/
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4 Responses to What did they use to clean the Sistine Chapel?

  1. Andrew Reuther says:

    Thanks for the information on this site. Your videos are great. I signed up for auto updates.

  2. Nalissa Bower says:

    Pretty great post and very interesting. Cleaning ancient paintings in ancient building seems so adventurous and amazing to me. Wow!

  3. Dina Michon says:

    I’m looking forward to your video about the cleaning of the Sistine Chapel controversy and your comments.

  4. Rachael Towne says:

    How wonderful that you have a loved career that includes so much traveling to beautiful places! I could only dream of this really…at least right now. I have a husband and two kids and don’t have the finances for travel. Anyway, the question about cleaning the Sistine Chapel with spit is quite amusing.

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