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Vatican Approves Mexico City Replica of Sistine Chapel

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June 13, 2016

Copies of the original paintings by Michelangelo in the Sistine Chapel as reproduced by Miguel Macias in the church of Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro in Mexico City. (Yuri Cortez, Getty Images.)

Mexico City - North Americans who can't make the trip to Rome now have an opportunity to visit Michelangelo's renowned Sistine Chapel in Mexico City. A full-size replica of the 15th century church, best known for the iconic ceiling fresco painstakingly painted by the Renaissance great between 1508 and 1512, has opened in Plaza de la República (Republic Square).

In additional to Michelangelo's contributions, which include The Creation of Adam ceiling panel and the Last Judgment on the altar wall, the reproduction also features works by Renaissance painters such as Raphael, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Luca Signorelli, and others.

The project came together through the combined efforts of Mexican architects, engineers, scenographers, and photographers. Creating the reproduction cost 45 million pesos (about $2.4 million USD), and was paid for by private partners. (Admission is free, although donations are accepted.)

"In total, 2.6 million images were used to create the replica," Antonio Berumen, who spearheaded the project, told Agence France Presse. He was inspired to take on the monumental task by a visit to the original, where he spotted a elderly Mexican woman who had been moved to tears by the sight.

Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, oversaw the photographic reproduction work, which was carried out over 170 nights while the chapel was closed. According to Berumen, it was the first time the chapel has been documented for reproduction purposes.

The project, however, is not the only Sistine Chapel in town. Where Berumen has used photos printed on canvas to bring the iconic space to his native country, artist Miguel Macias has been hand painting his own recreation of the chapel's ceiling for Mexico City's Nuestra Senora del Perpetuo Socorro (Our Lady of Perpetual Help) since 1999.

Mexico's newest Sistine Chapel is built on an elaborate metal scaffolding that takes nearly a month to erect. The project will travel throughout the country over the next three years, and is expected, says Berumen, to attract some 52 million visitors.

The replica will be on view in Mexico City on the Plaza de la República, at Monumento a la Revolución, through June 30, 2016, before embarking on a three-year tour.

Original article