ROME, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Italy's blockbuster exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Renaissance icon Raphael -- shuttered only days after opening due to the national coronavirus lockdown -- is now set to reopen on the date when it was originally scheduled to close.
Planned for years, Rome's celebration of the short, brilliant career of Raphael had originally been scheduled to run from March 5 to June 2. Instead, it closed as part of Italy's national lockdown, which entered into force on March 10.
The fate of the exhibition had been cast in doubt ever since. By far the largest and most comprehensive collection of Raphael's work ever gathered, the exhibition featured works on loan from 55 different institutions around the world, according to Matteo Lafranconi, co-curator of the event. Having the loans extended at first seemed impossible.
"In the end, it was a great show of solidarity," Lafranconi told Xinhua. "Many of the museums that loaned pieces were in other countries hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak, including France, Spain, the United States, and Britain. There was a great deal of empathy for what we have been going through and in the end, all the loans were extended."
Now the exhibition -- which will examine the artist's life in reverse, from his death in 1520 to his birth in 1483 -- will reopen on June 2 and run through Aug. 30.
"We have a second chance to conduct this important exhibition," Lafranconi said.
Still, the new exhibition won't exactly reproduce the original plan. Continued precautions related to the coronavirus outbreak mean visitors will have to use social distancing precautions. That means six people will be let in every five minutes, and visitors will be limited to the amount of time they will be able to gaze upon Raphael's masterpieces.
Even though he died at age 37, Raphael is considered one of the top three artists from the Italian Renaissance, along with Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.
Organizers said they would extend the hours of the exhibition to allow more people to enter, but there is no doubt that fewer people will see the exhibition under the new rules.
Lafranconi said the second run for the exhibition represents "a great victory" that will be appreciated by those who attend.
"In addition to its cultural value, there's a new symbolic value to this exhibition," Lafranconi said. "It shows that even amid a tragedy like this pandemic, we can be resilient."