It stands out among iconic art works in Western culture and certainly Catholicism: Michelangelo Buonarroti’s depiction of God, bursting from the heavens surrounded by angels to reach with an extended forefinger to touch the hand of man. Although “The Creation of Adam,” is the best known of the images painted on the ceiling of the famed Sistine Chapel, it is just one masterpiece amid a canopy of magnificent holy art in the space.
Beginning Saturday, April 13, parishioners of the Diocese of Orange, residents of Southern California and visitors from afar will have the chance to witness some of the greatest art outside of the Vatican as they tour “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition” on the campus of Christ Cathedral.
The arrival of the exhibit adds to a robust calendar of concerts and events that will bracket the official dedication of Christ Cathedral on July 17.
“This is the launch of a whole new era,” said Hank Evers, director of marketing for the Diocese of Orange.
The Sistine Chapel Exhibit features 35 licensed photographic reproductions of the famed 16th century frescoes that adorn the chapel, including full-sized renditions of ceiling panels, and two 40-foot by 40-foot renderings of the massive “The Last Judgement” fresco, pre- and post-restoration.
However, unlike in the chapel, with its 44-foot high ceiling, the artwork will be mounted in a way to allow close inspection.
“This exhibition will be a rare and amazing experience,” Evers said. “To see Michelangelo’s master work close up is an art form you will never forget.”
According to the show’s literature, “Guests who have already visited the Sistine Chapel will find a new way of observing the art. Visitors who have never seen the originals will be intrigued and inspired to visit the Sistine Chapel at some time in the future.”
The exhibition is the creation of Los Angeles-based Special Entertainment Events, which also staged popular touring “Star Trek” and “Titanic” exhibits. Since its 2015 unveiling in Montreal, the show has been a popular attraction and toured internationally with stops in locales from Houston to China.
Tickets range from $18 for general admission adults to $5 for children on school tours. The nine-month run of the show, April 13, 2019 to January 11, 2020, will be its longest.
Since the Diocese acquired the property at Christ Cathedral, it has looked for ways to make the campus a religious and cultural hub, not only for Catholics, but the entire community.
Evers says the exhibit will reach far beyond the campus boundaries to draw people from across Southern California, as well as some of the 17 million tourists that visit Anaheim every year.
Michelangelo Buonarroti was already an acclaimed sculptor when he was invited to Rome by Pope Julius II in 1505.
In 1508, although painting was not considered his forte at the time, Michelangelo began work on the Sistine Chapel. Initially commissioned as a painting of the 12 Apostles, Michelangelo expanded the vision to create a sweeping biblical tale spanning from the creation through Noah and the great flood. Painting by himself, perched on self-designed scaffolding, over the next four-plus years, Michelangelo embarked an unmatched artistic journey.
When completed and inaugurated in November 1512, the chapel’s ceiling featured more than 300 figures covering about 500 square meters, including famed pieces, “The Creation of Adam,” “Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,” and “The Deluge.” Surrounding the biblical scenes are depictions of the prophets and sibyls, or female oracles who foretold the coming of the Messiah.
“The Last Judgment,” Michelangelo’s massive fresco that covers the altar wall at the Sistine Chapel, which was painted from 1536-1541, is also included in the 8,000-square-foot exhibit.
Over the centuries, the masterpieces became faded and blurred from dust and soot. Restoration was undertaken in the 1980s and 1990s, and the exhibit shows the frescoes in their restored splendor.
“The exhibition takes us up onto the scaffolding during restoration for a new perspective,” according to show literature.
Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition
When: Saturday, April 13, 2019 – Saturday, January 11, 2020.
Hours of operation: Daily: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: General Admission $18
Seniors/Military/College students with ID $12
Children 7-18 years $9
Groups of 10 or more $10 per person
School groups $8 per child