Photographers Preserve Every Inch of Sistine Chapel In Astounding Detail

Published March 10, 2017
Updated March 26, 2018

In order to aid future preservation efforts, this photography is so detailed that individual brushstrokes are visible.

Sistine Chapel Painting

Fotopress/Getty Images

A team of researchers has photographed the entirety of the Sistine Chapel for posterity.

It took five years and more than 270,000 digital photos, but the researchers captured everything in the famous Vatican house of worship — from the mosaic floor to Michelangelo’s famous artwork on the ceiling — in high-quality detail.

How detailed? Enough to see the brushstrokes, according to Live Science.

“We used special post-production software to get the depth, intensity, warmth and nuance of colors to an accuracy of 99.9 percent,” Giorgio Armaroli, head of Scripta Maneant, told Reuters. “Future restorers will use these as their standards.”

“In the future, this will allow us to know the state of every centimeter of the chapel as it is today, in 2017,” Antonio Paolucci, former head of the Vatican Museums, told Reuters.

Paolucci and company hope that this time capsule of sorts of the chapel as it is in 2017 will assist restoration efforts in the future.

In order to get an accurate time capsule, the researchers took the digital photographs with a specialized telescopic lens. The collection amounts to almost 30 terabytes worth of data, an astronomical amount. It would take 118 iPhones with the top tier of storage capacity to match that storage, for instance.

All 30 terabytes of photographs will be packaged in a three-volume set that will cost $12,000 a piece. Reuters reports that it will be marketed primarily to libraries around the world.

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