OKC gets an up-close look at the iconic Sistine Chapel in an immersive show


In one of the most recognizable and reproduced images ever created, a reclining Adam reaches out for the outstretched arm of his hovering God, who is enveloped in crimson robe and surrounded by celestial figures.

The outstretched index fingers of God and man almost touch — but not quite.

Visitors can literally stand in this famous space – or copy Adam’s familiar pose – in “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” a traveling attraction showcasing some of the western world’s most iconic works of art in a way rarely seen before:

At eye level.

“The idea was to take this art and bring it down from the ceiling, let you study it up close, at your own pace, and really take your time,” said Eric Leong, senior producer for SEE Global Entertainmentwho produces the traveling exhibition.

“We give you an audio guide, we give you signage to tell you what you are looking at, who you are looking at, the story of Michelangelo. (We) really make you live an immersive experience in his universe.”

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” is on view through December 4 in downtown Oklahoma City, where it is featured in the new Film Row Sailor & The Dock. Here’s what you need to know.

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1. What can we expect to see in “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition?”

As its title suggests, the exhibition focuses on The famous frescoes by Michelangelo Buonarroti that adorn the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, as well as his dramatic “The Last Judgment” fresco on the west wall of the chapel, located in Vatican City in Rome.

The exhibition presents 34 imposing and high-quality photographic prints of the frescoes, taken after the works underwent extensive restoration in the 1980s and 1990s.

“They take up the entire ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, but in the original chapel, this art is 60 feet above you. Here we lower it so you can see it up close and personal from inches away. “, said Leong.

Martin Biallas, CEO of Los Angeles-based SEE Global Entertainment, was inspired to produce a traveling exhibit that would bring people face to face with Michelangelo’s treasured works after his own trip to Rome.

“To be completely honest, his visit wasn’t great: he felt rushed into the exhibit, he didn’t know what he was looking at, he heard people shouting for him to be quiet , no photos, no time. It was ‘t the environment, he thought you should experience this art and be able to think about it,” Leong said.

“With the subject…it appeals to everyone: art lovers, history buffs and devotees.”

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2. What is the significance of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel paintings?

Named after Pope Sixtus IV, who had it built between 1473 and 1481, the Sistine Chapel the interior walls and ceiling are adorned with frescoes created by some of the great artists of the Italian Renaissance, including Perugino, Pinturicchio, Sandro Botticelli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Cosimo Rosselli and, of course, Michelangelo.

Although its ceiling frescoes have become the monument’s most famous feature, Michelangelo, whose full name was Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, did not want to embark on the project. He considered himself a sculptor rather than a painter, having traveled to Rome in 1505 to accept the commission to create the marble tomb of Pope Julius II.

The artist reluctantly accepted a commission from Pope Julius II to paint the ceiling of the chapel, working from 1508 to 1512 to fill the vast airspace with scenes of the creation of the universe by God, Adam and Eve; Noah and the Flood; several Old Testament prophets; many ancestors of Jesus and more.

Michelangelo came back to paint “The Last Judgment” fresco on the west wall of the chapel between 1536 and 1541, at the request of Pope Paul III.

The nudity depicted in the paintings was controversial, so in 1564, Daniele de Volterra, known to the story as “The Britches Painter”, was hired to paint clothes on several of the characters. Much of this paint was removed during the restoration of the frescoes in the 1990s.

One of the Vatican’s most popular tourist attractions, millions of people visit the Sistine Chapel each year. Built to be the pope’s personal chapel, it continues in that capacity and serves as the site where the College of Cardinals meet to elect new popes.

“If you’ve been to the Sistine Chapel, I guarantee you’ll see something new, something different from what you’ve seen before (in the exhibition), just because you can’t have that view and you may not have the time If you haven’t been to the Sistine Chapel, we hope it inspires you to go see the building one day…but not everyone can travel the world,” Leong said. .

“For anyone who wants to take their time and properly immerse themselves…this is the show for them.”

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3. How does “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” provide an immersive experience?

Launched in 2015, “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” offers an immersive experience, but it predates the current trend of exhibitions based on high-tech projections as the “immersive Van Gogh” upcoming attraction from December 14 to January 1. 23 at the OKC Congress Center.

Instead of using projections, “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” immerses visitors by bringing the iconic works of art to their heights in the form of massive, high-quality photos.

“Thirty-three of them are life-size as they are in the Sistine Chapel. ‘The Last Judgment’, unfortunately, is 40 feet tall, and we rarely get a chance to display it full-size – well we do. But here we have one that’s a smaller version… replicated at 13 feet tall. So this one is about a quarter,” Leong said.

“They can take an hour, an hour and a half, two hours if they want – as long as they don’t prevent us from going beyond closing time – to enjoy the art. They can also use l The audio guide, which comes with the ticket, not only gives you the context of what you are seeing, but also teaches you about the history of Michelangelo, his whole process, the details to look for in the art. is our way of sharing this art.”

Although the large-scale photos are largely arranged to mimic the layout of the frescoes in the Sistine Chapel, there is one notable exception to this rule.

“The one that everyone knows, ‘The Creation of Adam’…we kind of have it at the center. We tend to take it out of the scheme of things, just because people like to go and get their own little selfies with that one,” Leong said.

The company has 10 traveling exhibit installations currently on display around the world: five in the United States, one in Canada, one in Australia, one in China and two in Europe.

“We want to visit as many big cities as possible; Oklahoma City has been on our bucket list for a long time. It was just about finding the right place, and we’re glad we did. we find is a very promising area…and I just think it’s really cool to find these old spaces being reclaimed and repurposed for new things like art, music, movies…. We are happy to be a part of it,” Leong said.

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4. What is the plan for the OKC Sailor & The Dock site after the Sistine Chapel exhibition?

The OKC Race for “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” is the introductory event for Sailor & The Dock, a space intended for entrepreneurs and artists. Boasting a nautical theme that will eventually include a salvaged sailboat for a central bar and common area, the venue will feature retail spaces, micro-stores, a workshop, event space and an artist incubator.

“Just as a dock is a destination where sailors and explorers meet to set out on their journey, Sailor & The Dock is where local creators, entrepreneurs, artists and community promoters join to embark on their journey to achieve what is most important to them,” said Sailor & The Dock management team member Hamid Pezeshkian.

“It is built on the core values ​​of community, creativity – which encompasses the arts and entrepreneurship – sustainability and well-being to bring inspiring projects to life.”

After the exhibition closes, the venue will then host the pop-up West Village Holiday Market for two weekends from December 9 to 18. For more information, visit https://sailorandthedock.com.

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5. When and how can you see “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition?”

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition” will be on view through December 4 at Sailor & The Dock, 617 W Sheridan Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, with last admission at 7 p.m.

Visitors are encouraged to allocate 60-90 minutes to explore the exhibit.

Tickets start at $22.50 for adults, $19 for youth, and $21.50 for seniors 65 and older, military, and students. For tickets and information, go to https://chapelsistine.com/exhibits/oklahoma-city.

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