Thanks to a grant from the California Patrons, a second magnificent 17th century globe is now restored. Last year, Dr. Chiara Fornaciari of the Vatican’s Paper Restoration Lab, completed the restoration of a Terrestrial Globe by the great Dutch cartographer and engraver Willem Janszoon Blaeuw (1571-1638). Due to the fragile nature of the globe, which was deeply soaked in blue covering paint, and the experimental use of a laser to clean the object, the restoration of the Terrestrial Globe took several years to complete. Fortunately, the second Blaeuw globe did not suffer from deep absorption of colored pigment. Although the surface had deteriorated and the colors had faded, the material remained relatively intact. Consequently, the restoration of the Celestial Globe progressed more quickly.
Prior to any restoration work being undertaken, the Vatican Diagnostics Lab conducted several scientific studies of the Globe. The experts employed pigment/stratigraphic techniques, photographed with UV fluorescence, and performed reflectographic analysis. In addition, the technicians conducted solvent tests and laser pilot tests. Once the scientific diagnostics were completed, a restoration plan was developed and refined through a series of discussions with a committee of experts.
Created between 1645 and 1648, this Celestial Globe depicts the 48 constellations described by Ptolemy. It is made of papier-mâché and stands approximately 101 centimeters high with a diameter measuring 67 centimeters. The Globe sits on a wood and brass structure for support. The support structure was also disassembled, cleaned, restored, and reinforced before the globe returned to rest on it. The Celestial Globe and the Terrestrial Globe are now back in the Vatican Museums, gracing the corridor leading to the Sistine Chapel, where millions of visitors a year pass by.