Sleuths of the Artistic Kind


FLORENCE, Italy — Art is a gamble at longevity beyond the artist’s earthly years — yet every artwork also has vulnerabilities and its own uncertain life span.

In Florence, which arguably has the world’s largest concentration of Renaissance masterpieces, art restoration is a civic virtue. The laboratories of the Uffizi Gallery and the Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Italy’s most distinguished institutions for restoration and scientific analysis, prolong these artworks with a combination of centuries-old skills and state-of-the-art technology, administered by their ranks of assiduously trained conservators.

They have ensured that visitors to the Uffizi still can see the gold-flecked hair of Botticelli’s 1485 “Birth of Venus (restored in 1983 and 1987), the writhing terror frozen in Caravaggio’s 1599 “Medusa” (in 1951, 1998 and 2002) and the radiant flesh and robes of Michelangelo’s 1506 “Doni Tondo” (1984, 1990).

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The museum houses Michelangelo’s 1506 “Doni Tondo,” which was restored in 1984 and 1990.

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