The Sistine Chapel comes to Stanley Marketplace

Exhibit gives visitors a chance to see Michelangelo’s masterpiece up close

Moira Cullings

Colorado residents will have an opportunity to gaze upon Michelangelo’s famous works of art — right in their own backyard.

The Sistine Chapel exhibit, coming to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace in Aurora, offers visitors an up-close perspective of Michelangelo’s work.

“At its max, the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling reaches heights of over 60 feet,” said Eric Leong, Associate Producer at SEE Global Entertainment. “But at our exhibit, you can examine the artwork from mere inches away in some instances.

“It’s as if you have the same view Michelangelo did when he originally painted it.”

Co-produced by the Hangar and SEE Global Entertainment, the exhibit will run from July 4 until August 13.

Tickets can be purchased online or at the door, and group tickets are also available.

Visitors explore Michelangelo’s work at the Sistine Chapel exhibit in Tacoma, Washington last year. The exhibit will come to the Hangar at Stanley Marketplace from July 4-August 13. Photos by Lisa Money Photography

Bryant Palmer, Chief Storyteller at Stanley Marketplace, explained that exhibits like the Sistine Chapel embody what Stanley hopes to offer Colorado residents.

“Bringing it to Colorado in a way that’s easily accessible fits right in with pretty much everything we’re trying to do at Stanley Marketplace,” he said.

After visiting the Sistine Chapel during college, Palmer was intrigued but felt that “it wasn’t as intimate as I had hoped for,” he said.

“The biggest thing that I’ve learned since then is how little access you have to see the detail in Michelangelo’s work.”

This exhibit changes the game, offering people the unique chance to see the details.

“The breadth of [Michelangelo’s] work and how many different human figures and expressions he put in the Sistine Chapel is just incredible,” said Palmer. “In this exhibition, you’ll be able to see that and study it from just a couple feet away.”

Both Leong and Palmer emphasized how crucial exhibits like this can be in preserving art and other aspects of history.

“With the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, we were all reminded how precious our most revered works of art truly are and how important it is to preserve and celebrate them,” said Leong.

“Disasters happen,” said Palmer, “so an exhibition like this really preserves that and makes it something that will last forever.”

The exhibit has already had success in several cities around the world, including Munich, Panama City and Shanghai, and visitors “love being able to absorb the details of the artwork at their own pace in a comfortable environment,” said Leong.

Palmer hopes that will also be the case here in Colorado.

“Art is one of the things that gives meaning to the world, and especially a piece of work like this that really does tell in part the story of humanity,” he said. “I think that’s really powerful.”

COMING UP: Why stay in the Church?

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There are many people who have either left the Church or are currently considering leaving because of the scandals of recent decades. We have felt pain and righteous anger at our leaders and have suffered scandal from their betrayal. For some, the grand jury reports and lack of accountability for bishops have been the last straw. It’s hard to blame people for feeling this way, but we have to ask with Peter, “to whom, Lord, shall we go?” (John 6:68).

Significantly, this question comes after many disciples walked out on Jesus for his teaching on the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist that should be at the center of any response to the crisis. Peter answers his own question: “you have the words of everlasting life” (John 6:68). The Church is Jesus’ own body in the world, and we are members of his mystical body, given eternal life by consuming his own flesh at Mass. Without the Eucharist, Jesus’ presence in the flesh, the very heart of the Church, where would we be?

Bishop Robert Barron echoes Peter’s question in a recent pamphlet-style book, with over a million copies in print, Letter to a Suffering Church: A Bishop Speaks on the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Word on Fire, 2019). He turns to the Bible and Church history to look for perspective on the crisis. Because of the centrality of the Eucharist in the Church, the betrayal of some of our priests and bishops takes on greater significance. They act in persona Christi at Mass, offering the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross to the Father, and we depend on them for our sacramental life.

Fortunately, the validity of the sacraments does not depend upon the sinlessness of priests, but rather the holiness of God. Barron points out, however, that priests will not get off easy, given the extremely harsh words that Jesus offers to those who lead children astray: “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me;  but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin,  it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the man by whom the temptation comes!” (Mt 18:7-9). Barron also references the punishment of Eli, in 1 Samuel 2-4, who as priest and judge of Israel watched his own sons, who were also priests, abuse the people. Barron argues that this scene gives us the best example of God’s retribution for allowing abuse to happen and not correcting it.

Barron also looks at the tumultuous story of Church history for context on the current crisis. Although the Church is the mystical body of Christ, he references St. Paul assertion that we bear our treasure in earthen vessels, as evidenced by the human weakness of Christians throughout history. In fact, this weakness manifests the Lord’s grace guiding and preserving the Church in spite of us. Barron quotes Belloc that a proof of the Church’s divine foundation “might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight” (43). Heresies, sinful popes, and sexual perversity have not fundamentally destroyed the Lord’s work, even if they have turned many people away. God has promised to remain with his Church and his providence will guide us especially through dark moments.

The crisis challenges us and raises the question of why we are Catholic. Most of us have been born Catholic and may take our faith for granted as something we’ve inherited from our parents. We may view belonging to the Church like membership in a voluntary organization. Rather, our life as members of Christ’s Body is a gift from God that changes our identity and unites us to God and our fellow Christians. As we experience challenges to faith, it is an opportunity to embrace this identity even more strongly — not as something that depends upon myself or anyone else in the Church, but on God. We go to Church to honor and thank him and to receive his grace, not to be a part of a human organization.

The Church is a family, called together by God, but, like any family, we experience pain from our own and each other’s sinfulness. As family, we can’t give up on each other, but have to “stay and fight” as Barron exhorts us, helping each other to be faithful to the mission that Jesus gave us: to love one another as he has loved us and to share the Good News of his salvation.

Featured Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash