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The Tedious Task of Cleaning a Masterpiece

February 22, 2024

A recent article by The Guardian reveals the painstaking work of involved in cleaning one of the world’s most famous pieces of art—Michelangelo’s David.

The 520-year-old statue, which currently resides at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, Italy, requires dusting every two months by resident restorer Eleonora Pucci. According to the article, journalists who were recently granted permission to view Pucci at work were warned not to disrupt her as she cleaned.

Pucci uses a vacuum, as well as fine brushes and cloths, to dust off the nearly 17-foot marble statue—a task that can’t be performed too close nor too far from the masterpiece.

“You have to be very careful not to get too close but be close enough in order to be able to dust,” Cecilie Hollberg, the museum’s director, told The Guardian. According to Hollberg, the cleaning takes at least half a day, with the removing of the dust and spiders’ webs from inside David’s curly hair as Pucci’s most difficult task.

The gallery, which The Guardian reports saw two million visitors in 2023, closes every Monday—time specifically to set aside for cleaning the works of art.

“You know when you clean a bathroom, you clean and clean, and think you’ve done a great job,” Hollberg said, “but then you spot some dust and wonder, ‘where did that come from?’ This is what it’s like. Dust is everywhere.”

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