Technology: Old Masters, New Tricks

Italy has become the capital of computerized art restoration

Critics scoffed when computers were first enlisted to help restore Michelangelo's magnificent frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. What could an electronic filing system in some Vatican basement contribute to the painstaking, labor-intensive task of liberating one of the world's largest and most famous paintings from nearly 500 years of accumulated grime and murky glue? But the computer -- an Apollo workstation programmed to map every curve and crack down to the last millimeter -- proved so indispensable that it was installed 20 meters (65 ft.) above the ground, on the main scaffold, where it put a wealth of data about the...

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