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Omaha Magazine

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition

Nov 15, 2021 12:10PM ● By Daisy Hutzell-Rodman
panel from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel in warehouse venue

Photo by Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

A masterpiece of Italian Renaissance painting is in Omaha—at least in one sense. At 1100 Capitol Ave., in a modern office building next to a Starbucks serving Americanized lattes and cappuccinos, is the art installation known as “Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition.”

The installation is a series of 34 screen-printed panels showing the frescoes on the Sistine Chapel in Rome. A fresco, for those who have not taken, or don’t remember, art history, is a painting done on wet plaster that, when dry, becomes part of the structure itself.

Without visiting Rome, this installation is as close as Omahans may come to viewing the real deal. The chapel art itself was commissioned by Pope Julius II in 1508, and was painted by the Renaissance artist Michelangelo (full name Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni) between 1508 and 1512. The installation takes the viewer through the ceiling panels one by one, from the Noah fresco on the entrance side through the altarpiece, titled “The Last Judgement.” The altarpiece, incidentally, was painted between 1534 and 1541.

Photo by Daisy Hutzell-Rodman

 The entrance to the exhibit (opposite the ticket desk) is the overview. The image on the side of the overview shows the ceiling in its entirety, and that will give visitors a good understanding of the layout of what they are about to see.

Those with back and neck issues, be warned—the first several panels are suspended from the ceiling. Fortunately, padded benches are strategically placed so that one can sit and view the panels if desired and/or needed.

The space at 1100 Capitol Ave. is about half as long as needed to view the art as it would be in the Sistine Chapel, so the numbers, right from the start, are a bit confusing. Panel No. 1 is the “Drunkenness of Noah,” and then one moves down the row three more panels and stands in front of “The Creation of Adam”…panel no. 6. My friend and I looked at each other and asked “Where’s no. 5?” After looking around the room confused for a moment, we discovered that panel no. 5 was in the second row of frescoes suspended from the ceiling. 

From “The Creation of Adam” in the middle, the panels along the side walls of the building roughly follow the panels on the side portions of the ceiling of the Sistine chapel. These show the sibyls (prophetesses or oracles in Ancient Greece) and old testaments prophets. It also occasionally displays a major piece out of sequence. The “Last Judgement” an anchor in the chapel, is stationed along the side wall in this exhibit. The information cards beside the panels show where in the chapel each panel is located. The easiest way I found to figure out the location of each panel in the chapel was to find “The Creation of Adam,” on the information card and then find the panel at which I was looking.

Photo by Daisy Hutzell-Rodman    

 Tickets can be bought online, and for an additional $5, visitors can listen to an audio tour of the exhibit. The audio tour gives an additional three minutes of information per panel, and those who don’t know, or have forgotten, art history, would be wise to pay the extra fee.

Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition runs through Jan. 1, 2022. Special events include a yoga class titled “Fresco and Flow” on Nov. 21 and “First Friday Under the Chapel” on Dec. 3. Tickets, including those to special events, are available online at chapelsistine.com/exhibits/omaha.