If you have ever visited Florence, Italy, you have visited the Galleria dell’Accademia. It is most famous for its sculptures by the great Renaissance artist, Michelangelo: Prisoners, St. Matthew and, above all, the statue of David. There works are among the wonders that draw most of the hundreds of thousands of visitors the museum welcomes every year. The Galleria is open six days a week but is closed on Monday.Monday is maintenance day. There are checks on the paintings and wooden frames for warping, flaking paint and the first signs of woodworms – as well as the more mundane checks on the museum’s air-conditioning, electrical and lighting systems. All this is carried out without interrupting public viewing and access on the other days. One of the other tasks is dusting. Not something you’d normally think about. But when you consider all the pictures frames, ledges, surfaces, and places dust can gather – there is a lot of routine dusting that needs to be done – and done carefully. Six times a year, the colossal statue of David gets dusted. The statue is 17 feet tall
Scaffolding needs to be erected in such a way that one of the art restorers on staff can access all parts of the statue for dusting and closeup inspection. The job begins with a photographic close-up to better track any wear and tear on the statue and to verify how much dust and debris (of microscopic dimension) has settled on it since the last time it was cleaned. The source of all this? That can change depending on the season, the number of visitors and the kind of clothes they may be wearing. Microscopic fibers can get caught in tiny spider webs among the sculpted locks of the David’s hair.
Dusting David…. never thought about it.