The Prima Porta Augustus is a 1st century white marble portrait statue of the Roman Emperor Augustus, regarded not only as one of the most important pieces of the Vatican Museums’ collection but also as one of the most iconic sculptures in the entire cannon of Art History. Because of its importance, the Vatican wishes to share it with the rest of the world; in fact, the Prima Porta is currently being prepared for a trip to Paris, where it will be on display in an exhibit at the Grand Palais.
The statue has recently been restored to its fullest splendor by the Vatican’s Marble Restoration Laboratory, thanks to the generous support of our Patrons from the Florida Chapter, but there are still many other preparations and accommodations to be made before it is able to travel. One of the most important things to consider is the journey itself and all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of the work while in transit.
Currently, in Vatican Museums, one of these precautions is being taken via the application of new technology: small mechanisms, which function to monitor even the slightest movements and vibrations, have been installed directly onto the statue to ensure its safe journey. These photos illustrate their attachment to the Prima Porta Augustus, as their small grey parts can be seen on the figure’s shoulder as well as on its extended wrist. These will record any and all movement undergone during the statue’s transport. Additionally, the platform upon which the sculpture stands has been restored and provided with a new system that absorbs any vibrations and prevents the statue from undergoing damage in such an event.
After several meetings, the Vatican’s Restoration committee decided to move the statue in a lorry, tightly secured in an appropriate container, fit with a “cage” to hold the Augustus. The driver of the lorry will be “connected” to the Prima Porta by a display indicating the vibrations and the condition of the marble.
It sounds like the Prima Porta Augustus is going to have a great and safe journey to France!