The heatwave currently sweeping Europe, aptly known as “Lucifer,” forced the closure of the Uffizi Galleries in Florence on Friday.
The gallery, which is Italy’s most-visited art museum and is particularly crowded during the high summer tourist season, closed around 1:30 p.m. on Friday, more than five hours early. The Uffizi’s director, Eike Schmidt, explained to artnet News that the water levels of the river Arno, which supplies the gallery’s air conditioning system, dropped so low that the system was unable to run at full capacity.
#Today #Uffizi closed due to a malfunctioning of the air conditioning system. #Tomorrow regular opening.We apologize about the inconvenience pic.twitter.com/i3Od132GTG
— Gallerie Uffizi (@UffiziGalleries) August 4, 2017
More than half Italy’s 20 regions are primed to declare a state of emergency to tackle the ongoing drought. Temperatures in Florence rose to 39°C (102°F) on Friday afternoon.
Armed with additional water supplies, the Uffizi—home to Sandro Boticelli’s The Birth of Venus (c. 1486) and Leonardo Da Vinci‘s Adoration of the Magi (1481)—opened Saturday morning at 8:15 a.m. as usual.
Excessive heat and moisture can distort artwork, causing dimensional changes, chemical reactions, or bio-deterioration. Generally, paintings must be kept at around 21°C (70°F ) and at 55 percent relative humidity; it is estimated that a mere 4ºC (7.2°F) increase in storage temperature may be reflected in a 40–50 percent reduction of a work’s lifespan.
Schmidt assured artnet News that the temperature and humidity levels never exceeded recommended levels, and that closing the gallery was a preventative measure to protect the artwork as well as the comfort of the visitors. read more