More than a million people visit the Galleria dell’ Academia in Florence, Italy, yearly to view the 17-foot masterpiece of Michelangelo Buonarroti’s biblical shepherd, David.
As noted in a previous column, over the years weather has caused some damage to the 505-year-old statue. In 1512, lightning struck its base. Weather has not been the only problem. In 1527, the left arm was broken during riots against Florence’s ruling Medici family. In 1991, a vandal smacked David’s foot with a hammer, damaging a toe.
From 1808 through 1815, the statue was coated with wax for weather proofing, and later cleaned with steel brushes and an acidic solution. Today, distilled water is applied with cotton swabs to remove contaminants from the statue’s surface.