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This Week in History: Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, and Work Safety

F Marie Athey OHST

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F Marie Athey OHST | August 7, 2013 | Comments Off on This Week in History: Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, and Work Safety

This Week in History: Sistine Chapel, the Louvre, and Work Safety

It may not seem like it, but the history of the world actually heaves to the heave-ho of construction projects both historic and mundane. Take any period on the world timeline and you will quickly see that a piece of architecture, civil work or an industrial project helped to define it.

In the middle of the second millennium BC, for instance, the Great Pyramid of Cheops first casts its awe-inspiring shadow over the sands of Giza and on the religious lives of ancient Egyptians.

In the 9th century, the exquisitely ornate Borobudur Temple emerged from the jungles of Java to become the avatar of the splendor of the Sailendra Dynasty of Indonesia.

At the close of the 19th century, the Eiffel Tower rose over the Paris nightscape for the first time even as the Statue of Liberty, across the Atlantic, was inaugurated on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor, establishing a powerful symbolic beacon of freedom to the world’s dispossessed.

This week—and in certain weeks in the future—this blog will detour down history lane to revisit interesting developments and achievements in the architectural and construction fields that have become today tributes to the contribution of construction (as well as the legacy of the men and women in the construction field) to general progress and history.

The month of August in history is particularly interesting to architecture enthusiasts today because of two events: the first mass held in the Sacellum Sixtinum, the Sistine Chapel to the modern world, in Rome on August 9, 1483 and the inauguration of the Musée du Louvre, otherwise known as the Louvre, in Paris on August 10, 1793.

The Sistine Chapel (pictured at the top of this post), the best-known cappella of the Apostolic Palace, the official residence of the Pope, owes much of its enduring fame to the majesty of its frescoed ceiling and walls. Fresco is an innovative painting technique developed during the time that requires the artist to paint on a “canvas” of wet plaster. Each fresco painting adorning the Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece by the day’s most accomplished artists, the most renowned of them was the great Michelangelo, who was commissioned by Pope Julius II to do the ceiling.

The ceiling project took Michelangelo four years to finish, but at one point its completion was thrown into doubt because the architect charged with building a safe scaffolding system for the artist was not up to the task. By 1512, however, Michelangelo had all nine main paintings done, including the one depicting The Creation of Adam, the fresco showing God reaching out to the reclining figure of Adam.

Louvre_Aile_RichelieuThe Louvre (pictured above) is the most-visited museum on the planet and one the world’s largest. Each year, an astounding 8 million visitors from all over the world file through its 60,600 square meters of exhibition space to gawk and marvel at nearly 35,000 exhibits, all objets d’art spanning the entire spectrum of mankind’s creative throughput from prehistory to the present. The Louvre, however, was anything but an art museum back in the late 12th century.

Located on La Rive Droite (the Right Bank) of the River Seine, it served best the interests of the Philip II’s realm as a fortress. It was only in 1682, after Louis XIV moved domicile to the Palace of Versailles, that the Louvre took on the trappings of a museum, when it was decided to house the royal collection. Ten years later, and after several renovations, the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres and the Académie Royale de Peinture et de Sculpture made the Louvre their home. At the height of the French Revolution in the late 1700s, a nationalistic fiat by the National Assembly finally turned the Louvre into what it is today, a national museum.

Great accomplishments in architecture are impossible without proper and safe construction site practices, more so now that projects are bigger and more complicated than ever. OSHA training course work helps architects and builders achieve work safety by keeping workers informed of work-specific dangers and work site hazards.


Sistine Chapel image by: BriYYZ from Toronto, Canada [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Louvre image by: Eric Pouhier and retouched by Mbdortmund [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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