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Saving the Last Supper

Tourists and cosmetics seem to be threatening da Vinci’s masterpiece

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4:41pm, December 2, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci’s painting the Last Supper survived bombings during World War II and exposure to some of the worst air pollution in Europe. But threats to the famous artwork loom, particularly from compounds wafting off the skin of visiting tourists.

An international team of scientists sampled particles in the air immediately outside and within the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie Church in Milan, where da Vinci painted the mural in the 1490s. A recently installed ventilation system at the church’s entrance is protecting the painting from soot and other emission-related debris.

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