Last weekend, I had the opportunity to visit Michelangelo’s SISTINE CHAPEL – The Exhibition while in Indianapolis for a McWilliams family reunion. Although visiting with family was the primary focus and the majority of the fun, nine of us took the short two block walk from our downtown hotel to view the exhibit on display at Circle Center Mall through August 28th. If traveling to Italy and visiting the actual Sistine Chapel might be on your bucket list, you’ll want to go to this exhibition! #knowbeforeyougo
A decade agao, Ken and I had a fabulous day in Vatican City when we visited Rome in 2011. Our Roman holiday was a quick getaway for only four days, but the Vatican sites were truly a highlight. Looking back through our photo album from the trip, it was fun to remember our amazing day touring the Gardens of Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, the Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica (with The Pieta, Michaelangelo’s beautiful sculpture) and the Sistine Chapel.
There’s no way to escape the crowds while visiting Vatican City. (The tour of the gardens might not be in everyone’s interest sphere, but we loved it. It required a separate pre-arranged ticket, but it was absolutely the least crowded of the Vatican sites.) St. Peter’s Square is huge, and even though filled with visitors on an average tour day, there’s still room to move about and take nice photos. In the Vatican Museums, I have to admit we felt like “solid packed tuna” moving through the buildings, rooms and corridors filled with amazing art. St. Peter’s Basilica is massive and gave the opportunity to more comfortably view the spaces. The Sistine Chapel was truly jam packed with people during our tour slot, making it virtually impossible to take in the visual details of its incredible ceiling and painting behind the altar. Beautiful – breathaking actually – as they were, I just couldn’t fully appreciate the details or the stories behind the paintings standing arm-to-arm in the Chapel. Although cameras were forbidden, pretty much everyone (including myself, see below) had their phone out taking pics of the once-in-a-lifetime moment with Michelangelo’s masterpieces.
The Michelangelo’s SISTINE CHAPEL – The Exhibition currently making its way around the world is a wonderful opportunity to see a majority of the painted ceiling vignettes up close and without bending your neck as far back as you can, and the Last Judgement altar painting up close without a few hundred heads and shoulders in front of you. There’s a nice video introduction of Michelangelo, the evolution of the Sistine Chapel paintings and info on fresco painting techniques he employed. There are audio guides and beautiful souvenir booklets that provide incredible context information, but I chose to download the app and listen on my phone.
Following the red carpet throughout the exhibition, highlights of the Chapel ceiling were for me the Creation of Adam, the Creation of Eve, The Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Paradise, and The Great Flood. But I have to say that that I might have enjoyed learning about the sybils in the Prophets & Sybils section the most! Although now regarded as “legendary figures”, these female prophetesses seemed to have somewhat starring roles in Michelangelo’s ceiling fresco. Just like history to relegate the female roles to fiction… #justsayin
Granted, the exhibit is not “the real thing”, but if you want to appreciate the details of the paintings and their stories, and learn about Michelangelo the artist and his incredible papal commisions, this is a fabulous experience. If you have the chance to visit the Sistine Chapel in Italy, your visit will definitely be enhanced after this exhibition. If you’re not able to travel for an in-person visit, you can experience the next best thing by visiting an exhibit near you.
Thanks Sally for this comprehensive review – no matter how many times one sees this there is always something new to learn.