Ghiberti's 'Gates of Paradise' restored, on one-time U.S. tour

ATLANTA -- When the artists of Florence, Italy, swung open the doors of the Baptistery of the Duomo (cathedral) now known as the "Gates of Paradise" in 1452, a new world was waiting on the other side.

Twenty feet tall and weighing three tons, this single work is considered the gateway to the Italian Renaissance, an upheaval so fundamental to how we see our world and think of ourselves that centuries later no Western culture is left untouched by it...

Legend has it that Michelangelo himself is the one who dubbed these doors the "Gates of Paradise."

And as [Atlanta's] High Museum of Art opens its exhibition of three of the doors' 10 gilt panels on Saturday, the conservation effort that brought them here will have lasted 25 years -- just two years less than it took to make the work itself...

Once the High showing closes on July 15, the exhibition travels to the Chicago Institute of Art and the Metropolitan Museum in New York.

The panels -- depicting the biblical stories of "Adam and Eve", "Jacob and Esau", and "David and Goliath" -- then will be moved back to Florence to be reassembled in the original doorway for permanent, hermetically sealed display at the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. They are expected never to travel again.

[Story has links to photo gallery, audio slide show.]

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