Many of our residents are world travelers, sampling the vineyards of Bordeaux, marveling at the Northern Lights, hiking the Appalachian Trail, exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu or staking out their own corners of the world for fun and exploration.

But thanks to a vibrant and dynamic arts community, Harbor’s Edge residents need not leave the city for an exquisite cosmopolitan experience.

For instance, the Virginia Arts Festival and MacArthur Center have partnered to bring the grandeur of the Sistene Chapel to your doorstep.

Through August 30, Harbor’s Edge residents and others can visit MacArthur Center (300 Monticello Avenue) to experience the spectacular art of Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and the Quattrocento frescoes of the Sistene Chapel for the first time ever outside of the Vatican. Cutting-edge technology has enabled the brilliant recreation of 48 magnificent images from the Sistene Chapel on delicate fabric, and the chapel’s ceiling is placed flat for a unique vantage point.

When the chapel was constructed in 1473, the walls were covered with murals, but the ceiling was decorated with only a simple field of stars. Twenty-six years later, Pope Julius II commissioned Michelangelo, then an unknown and inexperienced artist, to paint the ceiling. Michelangelo toiled for four years on scaffolding under the Sistene Chapel’s vaulted ceiling to paint the frescoes representing his interpretation of the history of creation.


Does four years strike you as an inordinately long time? In Michelangelo’s mind, it was a rush job. Pope Julius II was aging, and he wanted the project completed before his death. To hurry things along, Michelangelo adapted a process calling “pouncing”, in which each figure starts as a sketch, or cartoon, followed by transferring the image to plaster by pounding charcoal onto little dots outlining the image. But pouncing is a slow process, so Michelangelo exchanged the charcoal for a blade, enabling him to quickly incise the lines of the sketch directly onto the plaster. The four-year timeline was considered monumentally fast, and the artist’s new techniques standards for future generations of artists.

Visit for more information about this and other MacArthur Center events.


Author, Julie Deriso


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