Limiting access to the Sistine Chapel
There is an argument that it should be made as easy as possible for any pilgrim coming to Rome to see this room that has such a significant place in the Catholic world. And just a matter of weeks ago, in a newspaper article, [Vatican Museum director] Mr. [Antonio] Paolucci said it would be as “unthinkable” to limit access to the Sistine Chapel as it would be to limit access to the famous shrine at Lourdes.
But [Italian literary] critic, Mr. [Pietro] Citati takes a darker view, arguing that it is all about money. The Church makes a significant amount out of visitors to the Chapel and the other delights of the Vatican Museums. Everybody in the long queues in St Peter’s Square is paying more than 15 euros (£12.50) for a ticket. But it is possible though to avoid the masses if you can spare close to 220 euros for a private tour. Each involves about 10 people who are allowed into the Chapel outside the standard opening hours….
Writing shortly before his recent death, the art critic Robert Hughes recalled reading of the German writer, Goethe, visiting the Chapel 200 years ago. Back then the Sistine was “a place where one could be alone, or nearly so, with the products of genius,” Hughes wrote. “The very idea seems absurd, today; a fantasy. Mass tourism has turned what was a contemplative pleasure for Goethe’s contemporaries into an ordeal more like a degrading rugby scrum.”