Michelangelo’s David Under Threat From Recent Earthquakes

Dario Franceschini, the Italian minister of culture, has announced that the state will invest €200,000 (£156,000) on an “anti-seismic plinth” for Michelangelo’s David (1501-04), AFP reports – after more than 250 minor tremors that have shaken the Florence region over the past three days, sparking concern in Italy over the safety of Michelangelo’s “David” statue.

The two strongest earthquakes in the Chianti region between Florence and Siena Friday measured 3.8. and 4.1 on the Richter scale, as reported by the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology. Although many others were recorded early Saturday and reached 3.5 on the Richter Scale. There were no casualties caused by the quakes, and fire fighters reported only minor structural damage near the epicentre about 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) south of Florence. The announcement to create the special plinth for ‘David’ came shortly after these worrying events.

Angelo Tartuferi, director of the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, which has housed the famous work of art since 1873, said the platform should be ready for use within the year. The decision to secure the statue comes after experts revealed that Michelangelo’s marble sculpture was at risk of collapsing due to a set of micro-fractures in its ankles, which were discovered last Spring. The Galleria dell’Accademia then decided to limit the number of visitors to the work, and ordered a special platform to minimise vibrations.

Yet, due to the recent earthquakes “make this project even more urgent,” Franceschini said in a statement to the press. “A masterpiece like David must not be left to any risk,” he declared.

The biggest earthquake disaster to hit Italy in recent years, occurred in April 2009, with a 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the town of L’Aquila, which is 100 kilometers east-north-east of Rome. The quake killed 309 people. The previous seismic event of particular scale was in the Florence region and dates back to 1895, when a quake with an estimated magnitude of 5.4 provoked considerable damage in the hills to the north of the city.

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