Analysis of the Sistine Chapel carried out during the summer has provided evidence that the ceiling is being damaged by polluted air caused by the combined body temperature of the thousands of visitors the chapel receives every day.
Director of the Vatican museums Antonio Paolucci, speaking to Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, stated that while the main concern of the authorities in the past was the damage caused to the ceiling by over-cleaning, today a greater threat comes in the form of air pressure.
Highlighting the serious nature of the situation, Paolucci raised concerns for the future of the frescoes unless urgent action was taken. He acknowledged that while the world might never see the genius of another Michelangelo, modern science offered ample hope for a viable solution to the continuing conservation of Michelangelo's masterpiece.
In September and October it is possible to visit the Vatican museums every Friday night between 19.00 and 23.00. Booking is obligatory and tickets (