Story and photos by Henri Migala
November 24, 2021 (San Diego) -- I have been to the Sistine Chapel in Rome several times. The first time was when the frescos were still dark and covered with centuries of candle wax, soot and grime, and then again after the restoration brought out the original vibrant colors. But I have never seen Michelangelo’s frescos with as much clarity and intimate detail as when standing beside the life-sized reproductions at the Sistine Chapel Exhibit in Mission Valley on exhibit now through January 16.
When Pope Julius, in 1508, tasked Michelangelo with painting the Sistine Chapel, the sculptor was very resistant, because he did not consider himself a painter. But it was precisely this masterpiece, or maybe more precisely, the many masterpieces, of the Sistine Chapel that the artist is best remembered. Covering over 5,000 square feet and depicting 343 religious figures, the Sistine Chapel artwork took Michelangelo four years to complete and is one of the greatest artistic achievements of all humankind.
As the pope’s own chapel, the Sistine Chapel is the site of the principal papal ceremonies and is used by the Sacred College of Cardinals for their election of a new pope when there is a vacancy.
Organized by SEE© Global Entertainment family and CBF Productions, the Sistine Chapel Exhibit provides the viewer with the unique opportunity to stand next to larger-than-life reproductions of some of the most iconic works of art in Western Civilization.
Martin Biallas produced this exhibit after his seeing the Sistine Chapel in-person. "I didn't really enjoy the experience," recalls Biallas, founder and CEO Los Angeles-based SEE© Global Entertainment. "There were long lines and you we were rushed through. This exhibit is the opportunity to see amazing art and enjoy a positive experience.”
The Sistine Chapel exhibit in San Diego allows visitors to take time to dive into each picture and experience one of the world’s greatest
artistic achievements: Michelangelo’s renowned ceiling frescoes from the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel, reproduced in a format that allows viewers to get face-to-face with the masterpieces. Through more than 30 artfully displayed reproductions, this innovative presentation includes world-renowned pieces like The Creation of Adam and The Last Judgement, bringing them just a few feet away from the audience.
"It's like a sanctuary," Biallas said. "You're transformed into a completely different world."
For art lovers and history buffs of all ages the Sistine Chapel exhibit offers a way to experience Michelangelo’s work. The nearly life-sized reproductions are printed from high resolution images on special fabric meant to evoke the painted plaster of the Sistine Chapel.
When standing in the Sistine Chapel, there is very little opportunity to appreciate any individual part or image. The viewer is simply overwhelmed with seeing all the images and all the scenes in the entire space, all at once. The visitor is experiencing being in the space of the chapel, as a place. All the images come together to form a vast and complex mosaic of images that are to be seen, and taken in, visually and emotionally, all at once. Also, the viewer must look at the images on the ceiling from at least 44 feet away, and usually much further because the dense crowds don’t allow you to move around the Chapel freely.
The Sistine Chapel Exhibit in Mission Valley allows you the unique and privileged opportunity to stand right next to individual images, so you can contemplate, appreciate and admire each one. The experience is personal, intimate, even emotional. And the easy-to-use audio guide, with talks specific to each image, provides the viewer with fascinating background stories and information to help the viewer better understand the image and the artist.
Even if you have been to Rome and have seen the Sistine Chapel, you have never seen, or interacted with, Michelangelo’s frescos in the personable way you can at the Sistine Chapel Exhibit.
More information about the Sistine Chapel Exhibit can be found at:
The Sistine Chapel Exhibit is being held inside the old Macy’s in Mission Valley Mall, 1640 Camino Del Rio N, San Diego, CA 92108 - next to Buffalo Wild Wings & Bed Bath & Beyond.
The exhibit opened on November 19 and will run through Sunday, Jan 16, 2022.
Exhibit times are Thursdays–Sundays, 10am–6pm (time slots available every half hour).
The visit will take around 60 to 90 minutes when accompanied by audio guides available for purchase, or 30 to 50 minutes without audio guide.
Ticket prices range depending upon age, number of people, regular or VIP… Discounts are available.
The exhibit can accommodate 100-150/half hour, and opened to a sold-out crowd of 2,000 people/day through its opening weekend. Tickets can be purchased at the door or online, but given the attendance of the first few days, it might be prudent to purchase your tickets online, in advance.