Hey friend! Welcome back to another post! Today, we’re talking about the Sistine Chapel exhibit that was on display in Oklahoma City from September through December 2022. Sadly, it is no longer open in OKC, but if it’s in a city near you then I totally recommend checking it out. So, let’s talk about it!
*All photos were taken by myself at the Sistine Chapel Exhibit in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
What is the Sistine Chapel?
The Sistine Chapel was built from 1473-1481 by Giovanni die Dolci for Pope Sixtus IV. It is a rectangular building with a barrel-vaulted ceiling and there are six arched windows on the long sides of the building. The exterior of the building is fairly plain, but the inside of the building is another story. The decor is immaculate. There are frescos on a majority of the walls and the ceiling depicting different Popes and Biblical scenes.
How is a fresco made? An artist takes water-based pigments and paints over moist lime plaster while it is still wet.Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Artists of the Sistine Chapel
A handful of artists were commissioned to decorate the interior of the chapel. The most famous artist being Michelangelo Buonarroti.
Michelangelo had arrived in Rome in 1505. He considered himself to be more of a sculptor than a painter and intended to sculpt a mausoleum for Pope Julius II, but that didn’t happen… Instead, Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling in 1506 by Pope Julius II.
The ceiling covers approximately 8611 square feet and Michelangelo would paint most of the ceiling without assistance – a huge feat!
Pope Julius II wanted the theme of the work to be the Twelve Apostles, but Michelangelo found this boring and had other ideas. Michelangelo decided to create frescos made of multiple scenes from the Old and New Testaments in the Bible for the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The framework he chose for the piece has interested people for centuries. He began with Creation and ended with The Last Judgement, but he didn’t move in a linear fashion.
After four and a half years of painting, Michelangelo’s ceiling frescos were finished. A festival was held on All Saint’s Day in 1512 to open the Sistine Chapel.
In 1536, Michelangelo returned to Rome to redesign the altar wall at the request of Pope Paul III. Five years later, Michelangelo finished the “Last Judgment.” The center of the painting features Jesus separating humanity into the chosen and the damned. It is a very detailed piece (there is a photo below).
Sistine Chapel Restoration
A controversial project to restore the frescos on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel took places in the 1980s. This project took ten years to complete. They removed dirt, smoke, and varnish that had accumulated on the frescos for centuries. The vibrancy of the colors were finally able to be seen once again.
The Sistine Chapel Exhibit in Oklahoma City
“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Exhibition” is a breathtaking traveling exhibit. The technology used to create the replica panels involved photography and special printing techniques. Many of the photographs used had been taken during the restoration project.
There are 34 massive panels that showcase what Michelangelo painted on the Sistine Chapel. You can see the brush strokes and minor details of the original pieces on the panels. The panels are HUGE! I am standing next to a panel in the photo below and you can see how big it really is.
How much time should I budget to walk through this exhibit?
This exhibit will take anywhere from 60-90 minutes to walk through.
There is an app to download when you arrive with a guided audio tour. There is a QR code to scan at each panel which will take you to the correct audio clip. You can also manually select on the app which clip you want to listen to as well. Each clip lasts anywhere from 2-5ish minutes on the guided audio tour. My friend played the audio on their phone and we shared wireless headphones so we could both hear the same thing at the same time.
There was also a poster with information to read at each panel which was nice.
As for seating, there were a few benches spread throughout the exhibit in Oklahoma City. This gave you a chance to to sit and observe the panels more closely if you wanted to.
“The Creation of Adam” has always been one of my favorite pieces of art. (Photo above) I have a small replica in my living room of the fingers nearly touching. To see it up close and huge was amazing. I really don’t have any other words to say about it. I sat here and looked at this painting for several minutes. I was thankful they placed a bench here!
I have included a few photos of some of the some of the other panels that were on display. There is no way I could include them all here… The colors and the details are stunning. The patience that Michelangelo needed to create these masterpieces must have been great.
My friend really liked this panel, the “Last Judgement. (Pictured above) The detail in this panel is stunning. The longer you sit and look at it – the more things you notice about the painting. What is the first thing you notice about this piece?
I LOVED this exhibit and my friend said they enjoyed it too. If you have a chance to see this exhibit, I definitely recommend going. Tickets were a little bit pricey in Oklahoma City, but the experience was worth it to me.
TRAVEL TIP: Make sure to take a pair of fully-charged headphones to the exhibit with you so you can listen to the audio tour!
They also had a gift shop at the end of the exhibition with different items you could purchase. I wound up getting a magnet for my collection and a beautiful coffee mug with “The Creation of Adam” on it 🙂
Happy traveling, friend! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂
OKC: Sistine Chapel Exhibition
About the Exhibition: Sistine Chapel Exhibition Website
Fresco Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Sistine Chapel: Encyclopedia Britannica
Exhibit Information Panel at the Beginning of the Exhibit – Cover Image of this blog post and below