Up Close In Indy: Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel

Photos courtesy SEE Attractions and Bridgeman Images

FOR THOSE of you who’d like an Art History 101 refresher, Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni was a painter and sculptor of the High Renaissance, best known for his frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. It took him nearly five years to finish the job, and the resultant masterpieces have been revered ever since.  

No, nothing from Rome has been physically transported here. What you’re going to see is 34 reproductions, including the monumental The Last Judgement. But what reproductions they are. They’re the exact same size as the originals, and created with a depth of detail that is everything modern technology can muster. The frescoes have been duplicated using a licensed, high-definition photography method, then printed with a giclée process that mimics the look and feel of the real deals. You can actually see the brushstrokes and every delicate, subtle hue.

The experience is way different from viewing the originals. Rather than being herded through the Sistine Chapel in a throng of other souls (up to 30,000 a day, believe it or not) craning their necks upward, you’re gazing upon the works right at eye level. Plus, you have the benefit of signage and audio guides for deep dives into the creation of each work. It turns out that standing and lying on his back for years on end, wrestling with a penchant for perfect precision, rendered Michelangelo perpetually grouchy and reclusive (understandable). See if you can spy his tiny self-portrait in The Last Judgement.

Nobody’s saying an afternoon at Circle Centre takes the place of a trip to Italy. But if you have an interest in art, history, or religious studies—or simply in a relaxing, unusual activity in air-conditioned comfort—Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition will be a bigger treat than you might guess. Oh, and unlike in the Sistine Chapel, where photography is forbidden, you can go on and strike a pose touching God’s finger in The Creation of Adam. If interfacing with The Almighty isn’t Instagram-worthy, we don’t know what is.

WHERE Circle Centre mall in the former Carson’s space. Use the entrance across from T-Mobile on Washington Street.
WHEN Now through August 28, Tues.–Sun., 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (last entry). It takes about 90 minutes to work your way through at a leisurely pace.
INFO Tickets, timed at half-hour intervals, start at $15.40 and are available at chapelsistine.com.