Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition 

New York’s pop-up Sistine Chapel Exhibition invites viewers to engage with Michelangelo’s mesmerizing work in a newfound way. 

Instead of craning your neck to view the series of thirty-four frescoes inside the Vatican, life-sized reproductions are scattered across the room, enabling guests to get up close and personal with these hallmarks of High Renaissance art. Michelangelo’s later addition, The Last Judgement, which covers the altar wall inside the chapel is also included. The exhibition designers claim that visitors have the opportunity to experience the works from the same distance as the Master artist himself. 

I have visited the actual Sistine Chapel on a trip to Rome in 2018. In my opinion, the dense crowd and security hushing “Silenzio, No Photo” repeatedly into the microphone does not provide an opportunity to intimately engage with these masterpieces. Not to mention you may spend time gazing at the work of others famous Renaissance artist on the adjacent walls (my personal favorite being Botticelli). With so much to take in, my sensory overload was satiated when I identified the iconic Creation of Adam panel on the ceiling.  

The exhibition allows to viewer to pause and reflect on the biblical scenes. Traditionally, Art History students will come across an overall snapshot of the ceiling in their textbooks. To reiterate this, I can confirm that I had not viewed detailed shots before this trip of all the works in the Sistine Chapel. 

The exhibition text identifies the location of a fresco on the ceiling and includes a brief description of the work. My main critique for this show is that I craved more context in the exhibit labels. 

This is my favorite immersive exhibition to date. It enabled me to appreciate the Sistine Chapel from a new perspective. Additionally, as a Catholic, I enjoyed viewing scenes from familiar stories in the Old Testament. 

I highly recommend this exhibit to those who appreciate Renaissance art. Your neck can thank me later. 

For more info on the Sistine Chapel Exhibit, please check out the website here.

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