The exhibition allows a detailed visualization of the works of art of the Sistine Chapel

Friday May. 06, 2022

CI Photo/Linda Petersen

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Visitors to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: Exhibit see reproductions of the frescoes that depict scenes from the Old Testament.

By Linda Peterson

Intermountain Catholic

SALT LAKE CITY — Upon arriving at Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition at The Gateway, the visitor is offered a personal audio device that can be used to hear information about each individual fresco. (Those who need more volume control can request a QR code that downloads the full presentation to smart phones; it can also be synced directly to select hearing aids). A sign with some of the information is also located at each panel.

The low-key entrance gives the viewer a hint of what awaits just around the corner: a cavernous space filled with individually displayed, larger-than-life high-definition photo reproductions of 34 of Michelangelo’s frescoes. The work is so well reproduced that cracks in the plaster are easily visible.

Before perusing the exhibition, the public can sit down and watch 20-minute videos of the frescoes. There are three videos, one of which is particularly suitable for children; they are displayed in rotation. Sometimes the video soundtrack is loud enough to make it difficult to hear audio presentations on nearby panels.

The exhibition is divided into three main parts. The first set of vertical panels feature frescoes depicting the ancestry of Jesus Christ. Much of Michelangelo’s imagery is startling; he often chooses to represent the ancestors of Jesus in small family paintings reminiscent of the Holy Family for example.

A second set, also displayed vertically, illustrates the Old Testament prophets. Then, seven panels are suspended horizontally from the ceiling to recreate the viewpoint of visitors to the Sistine Chapel. These illustrate several scenes from the Old Testament, beginning with the creation of the world and ending with the story of Noah and the flood.

The majestic and best-known of the frescoes, “The Creation of Adam”, stands alone in a vertical presentation, allowing the visitor to inspect it closely. “The Creation of Eve” is displayed nearby.

“The Last Judgment”, completed by the artist 25 years after painting the ceiling of the chapel, is exhibited separately. It contains 390 individual characters and many rich sub-scenes. Some of the saints depicted in the fresco will be easily recognizable to Catholics attending the exhibit.

Benches scattered throughout the exhibition allow spectators to sit down while studying the frescoes. A background soundtrack of sacred music adds to the experience.

Mark Longe, superintendent of Catholic Schools in Utah, said he enjoyed the April 28 preview of the exhibit, comparing it to his visit to the Sistine Chapel with his wife, Tina, 15 years ago. years.

“We both said at the end that it was really the first time you could see the artwork in any detail,” Longe said. “When you’re actually in the Sistine Chapel, the ceiling is so high you can’t see the details.”

The videos about Michelangelo and his work at the exhibit were also interesting, he said.

John and Chris Springman, who also attended the preview of the exhibit, had a similar reaction. They enjoyed visiting the Sistine Chapel in 2016, but it was crowded and time was short. Because the ceiling was more than 60 feet off the ground and overflowing with images, it was nearly impossible to see all of its detail and beauty, they said.

“I found the exhibition marvelous; it was an opportunity to see things up close that we saw from afar in person,” John Springman said. “I wish I had seen this first; I would have enjoyed the original more had I known more.

“I thought the exhibit was fantastic,” said Chris Springman. “The art was magnificent and much more detailed than we will ever be able to see in person in the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo was a genius.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibit was produced by SEE© Global Entertainment. Tickets for the exhibit, which runs through June 21, at The Gateway, 400 West 200 South, SLC, start at $23 per adult, $14 per child. Discounts are available for groups, seniors, military, and students. Tickets can be purchased at

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