Museum Used Flesh-Eating Bacteria to Clean Michelangelo's Statues Because They're Full of Human Corpse

Art historians have long noticed that marble sculptures by Michelangelo on the tomb of Duke Alessandro de Medici were staining badly, but it was only in 2019 that they discovered the gruesome reason: the improperly embalmed corpse within was leaking.

Thankfully, science has the solution in form of flesh-eating bacteria:

Anna Rosa Sprocati, a biologist at the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, hand-picked from her catalog of more than 1,000 bacteria to test against the stains. They had successes and failures, with some of the bacteria eating not just the human remains, but the delicate Carrera marble, too. But the chapel's museum believed that bacteria would be more effective than harsh chemicals or abrasives.

Sprocati's all-female team picked the eight most promising bacteria and tested them on a gridded section behind the altar of the church. The ones that worked were then put on the tomb of Giuliano di Lorenzo, specifically the statues of Night and Day. The bacteria successfully cleaned Night's hair and eyes of accumulated residue.

Image: eos1/Wikimedia Commonsā€‹

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