Why aren’t we allowed to take photographs at the Sistine Chapel?

Sistine Chapel

Japanese TV Network NHK, footed the restoration bill for the ceiling restoration in exchange for exclusive film and publication rights until 2019.

This is probably the only time most of us going to see this place without people in it.

In 2004, Museo Vatican announces a partnership with the Japanese TV Network, NHK, whom will be footing the multi-million dollar restoration bill in exchange for exclusive film and publication rights. Besides public domain and the Museum’s own use, no other parties allowed to capture any artwork, both film and print, inside the chapel. Thus the constant policing by the guards: “No photos!”, “Be quiet!”, “Keep walking!”

The Museum authority uses another clever method to outsmart prying cameras: it uses just enough light for human eyes to see, rendering the room simply too dark for even a fast modern DSLR sensor.

For NHK it’s purely a business transaction where every penny of investment yields a multiplied profit, one way or another. The Vatican can sell postcards, books, and mostly, tickets to get funds to run its multi-million dollar facility & operations. It’s a win-win deal.

Than there’s us. The pilgrims, the travelers and admirers of the romanticized art feeding the heavenly with our hard-earned penny.

I wonder if Michaelangelo would be happy or not so, for one, the art is no longer purely his vision.