The Sistine in the Lou

Now instead of taking an airplane to Rome, people can drive to St. Louis to see Michelangelo’s work.


Sydney Tran

“The Last Judgment” was the piece that drew those who walked through the entrance to go straight to it. Many visitors spent a large amount of time studying the work for each minute detail. The more they looked the more they saw.

For many people, religious or not, the Sistine Chapel is a bucket list location for art connoisseurs or people with eyes. For years, people have traveled to the detailed frescoes of Michelangelo, and is a popular tourist destination for anyone who has a passport. The only downside to this dream is the price of traveling to Vatican City. A ticket from the St. Louis Lambert Airport to Rome costs about 1,422 dollars when you check Google flights. But, even if you could scrounge up enough for a ticket, you need to factor in a hotel, food, and transportation. Then you would need to reserve a ticket at least a few months ahead to ensure you can even get into the church and see the frescoes. On top of that, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and I am pretty sure traveling overseas would be strongly not recommended and difficult. 

But, lucky for those who live in the vicinity of St. Louis, we only need to pay about 17 dollars to see an accurate recreation of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel for an hour. Sure, 17 dollars seem steep, but when it’s compared to the price of a plane ticket to Rome, it’s a pretty sweet deal. This exhibition has taken great steps to make everything safe for viewers, from the foot arrows and guard rails leading you around the exhibit to the individual “pods” which viewers must stay in to keep everyone socially distanced as they move from piece to piece.

Upon entering, you are fully immersed in the atmosphere of the exhibit. While you look at the huge works of art, ethereal music plays in the background as if you are in the Sistine Chapel or heaven. In Rome, the details of the fresco can not be fully picked apart because of how high it is in the Sistine Chapel, but in this exhibit, you do not need to break your neck looking up at a ceiling since it is right in front of you. Each work of art is a recreation of the ceiling frescoes in the actual size as if you were in Rome, giving you a new perspective of the meticulous detail put into each part. Beside each work of art, is an explanation of the story that goes along with the art, offering it in English and Spanish. Above the text is a picture of the entire Sistine Chapel’s ceiling and highlights the work you are currently viewing so you can see where the art is on the actual ceiling. As you wander through the exhibit there are flat couches placed in the middle of the exhibit so you can sit and look up at the work hung up on the ceiling. 

For me, not many people were there so I laid down and let the art speak to me. On the ceiling is the famous “God creating Adam” fresco, but my favorite was “God creating the Sun, Moon, and Earth”. When laying down and letting the music move through me, it felt like I was watching God create the Sun, Moon, and Earth. 

And I never wanted to leave. 

But the true star of the show is the Last Judgement, a 45 x 39 foot iconic fresco. I recommend to spend some time looking at the details put into each individual angel, devil, and person. There are no words for how utterly jaw dropping the work is, especially in such close proximity. For anyone who is interested in art I highly recommend coming to this exhibit while it is still in St. Louis. They do a spectacular job at enforcing social distancing, but an even better job to make the experience memorable. It’s a family-friendly environment and the layout of the exhibit is great for COVID-19 guidelines and chairs are placed in areas you would want to sit and observe art. 

Overall, I would see myself going again, and again to see this masterpiece. Because of COVID-19, we are limited to travel, but now the Chapel Sistine installment is in town to take advantage of this amazing opportunity. And relish in the vibes the exhibition offers, it feels like you are in art heaven.