By Mark Duff
BBC News, Milan
Michelangelo's famous statue of
David could collapse because of its exposure to mass
tourism, Italian experts say.
They say the massive statue of the
naked boy-warrior is in danger because of its size,
shape and the weakness of the marble from which it was
But they warn that the greatest risk
comes from the footfall of many visitors who troop past
it each day at Florence's Galleria dell'Accademia. The experts want to protect the statue
by insulating it from the vibrations.
This would cost about 1m euros
(£785,000). Otherwise David could topple over,
engineers from the University of Perugia say.
The warning follows a detailed
study of the statue which showed that the cracks
filled during major restoration works four years ago
- on the occasion of its 500th anniversary - have
already reopened. That restoration was itself
controversial because it involved using distilled
water to clean the statue - which critics argued
could damage it.
Michelangelo's David has had
iconic status almost since its completion at the
height of the Renaissance. At the time it was seen as a
powerful symbol of Florence's republican political
ideals: David being the youthful warrior who felled
the mighty Goliath in the Biblical Old Testament
Since then it has enjoyed mixed
fortunes: attacked by crowds when it was first
displayed, then hacked by a deranged painter in
1991. The statue has also acquired
kitsch status - its copies adorn everything from
casinos in Las Vegas to tacky Mediterranean beach
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