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: AM[D]G           

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Last November 11, on the centenary of its relocation to a 93-acre campus in suburban Washington, D.C., Georgetown Preparatory School announced a $60 million capital campaign. In his message for the opening of the campaign, Georgetown Prep’s president, Father James Van Dyke, SJ, said that, in addition to improving the school’s residential facilities, the campaign intended to boost Prep’s endowment to meet increasing demands for financial aid. Like other high-end Catholic secondary schools, Georgetown Prep is rightly concerned about pricing itself out of reach of most families. So Prep’s determination to make itself more affordable through an enhanced endowment capable of funding scholarships and other forms of financial aid for less-than-wealthy students is all to the good.

What I find disturbing about the campaign is its “branding” slogan. I first became aware of it when, driving past the campus a few months ago, I noticed a billboard at the corner of Rockville Pike and Tuckerman Lane. In large, bold letters, it proclaimed, “FOR THE GREATER GLORY.” And I wondered, “…of what?” Then one day, when traffic allowed, I slowed down and espied the much smaller inscription in the bottom right corner: “Georgetown Prep’s Legacy Campaign.”

Ad maiorem Dei gloriam [For the greater glory of God], often reduced to the abbreviation, AMDG, was the Latin motto of St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus. Georgetown Prep is a Jesuit school. So what happened to the D-word? What happened to God? Why did AMDG become AM[D]G while being translated into fundraising English?

I made inquiries of Jesuit friends and learned that amputating the “D” in AMDG is not unique to Georgetown Prep; it’s a tactic used by other Jesuit institutions engaged in the heavy-lift fundraising of capital campaigns. That was not good news. Nor was I reassured by pondering Father Van Dyke’s campaign-opening message, in which the words “Jesus Christ” did not appear. Neither did Pope Francis’s call for the Church’s institutions to prepare missionary disciples as part of what the Pope has called a “Church permanently in mission.” And neither did the word “God,” save for a closing “Thanks, and God bless.”

Father Van Dyke did mention that “Ignatian values” were one of the “pillars” of Georgetown prep’s “reputation for excellence.” And he did conclude his message with a call for “men who will make a difference in a world that badly needs people who care, people who, in the words Ignatius wrote his best friend Francis Xavier as he sent him on the Society of Jesus’s first mission, will ‘set the world on fire’.” Fine. But ignition to what end?

Ignatius sent Francis Xavier to the Indies and on to East Asia to set the world on fire with love of the Lord Jesus Christ, by evangelizing those then known as “heathens” with the warmth of the Gospel and the enlivening flame of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith. St. Ignatius was a New Evangelization man half a millennium before Pope St. John Paul II used the term. St. Ignatius’s chief “Ignatian value” was gloria Dei, the glory of God.

Forming young men into spiritually incandescent, intellectually formidable and courageous Christian disciples, radically conformed to Jesus Christ and just as deeply committed to converting the world, was the originating purpose of Jesuit schools in post-Reformation Europe. Those schools were not content to prepare generic “men for others;” they were passionately devoted to forming Catholic men for converting others, the “others” being those who had abandoned Catholicism for Protestantism or secular rationalism. That was why the Jesuits were hated and feared by powerful leaders with other agendas, be they Protestant monarchs like Elizabeth I of England or rationalist politicians like Portugal’s 18th-century prime minister, the Marquis of Pombal.

Religious education in U.S. Catholic elementary schools has been improved in recent decades. And we live in something of a golden age of Catholic campus ministry at American colleges and universities. It’s Catholic secondary education in the U.S. that remains to be thoroughly reformed so that Catholic high schools prepare future leaders of the New Evangelization: leaders who will bring others to Christ, heal a deeply wounded culture, and become agents of a sane politics. Jesuit secondary education, beginning with prominent and academically excellent schools like Georgetown Prep, could and should be at the forefront of that reform.

Jesuit secondary education is unlikely to provide that leadership, however, if its self-presentation brackets God and announces itself as committed to “the greater glory” of…whatever.