A UNIQUE exhibition has opened in Winchester featuring the work of Michelangelo.

The UK premiere of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: A Different View gives visitors to the Discovery Centre and Great Hall an up close view of the masterpieces which adorn the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

The chapel has been subject to a number of restoration projects in its lifetime, and during the most recent restoration in the 1990s, the resulting restored works were photographed at high resolution.

This exhibition, which is officially licensed by the Vatican Museums, reproduces those incredibly detailed and vibrantly coloured images, allowing a close-up view normally reserved for the privileged few.

The exhibition is on display until September 29 in three venues across the city, each providing a different glimpse into the works which are viewed by four million people every year at the Sistine Chapel itself. Michelangelo was not in fact the only artist to work on the chapel decorations, they were completed by a number of artists over several years.

On view at City Space on the ground floor of Winchester Discovery Centre, where the exhibition starts, are reproductions of 14 works narrating the life of Christ and the story of Moses by Renaissance masters including Botticelli and Roselli.

Upstairs at the Discovery Centre in The Gallery, the centrepiece is a seven-metre reproduction of the Sistine Chapel ceiling telling the story of Genesis, which includes one of the world’s most recognisable and iconic images, The Creation of Adam. Also on display in The Gallery are Michelangelo’s exquisite portrayals of the pagan sybils and ancient prophets, who foresaw the coming of the Redeemer.

The third venue is the Great Hall with a dramatic 6m x 6m panel of The Last Judgement: the original covers the whole altar wall in the Sistine Chapel.

Ioannis Ioannidis, cultural experience manager at Hampshire Cultural Trust, which operates both City Space and The Gallery, said: “Michelangelo spent four years of his life on scaffolding under the vaulted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painting probably the most famous frescoes in the world with his interpretation of the history of creation. The technique used to replicate the images of the ceiling for this exhibition creates a true-to-life reproduction and gives a glimpse of the works, which, apart from Michelangelo, has so far been given to only a few people.

“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: A Different View allows unprecedented closeness to his magnificent works, far away from the enormous streams of visitors to the Sistine Chapel: visitors here have the opportunity to take in the imposing paintings at their leisure and allow them to soak in.”

Hampshire County Council operates both Winchester Discovery Centre and the Great Hall. Its executive member for recreation and heritage, Cllr Seán Woodward, added: “We are delighted to be working with Hampshire Cultural Trust on such an exciting project.”