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See the Sistine Chapel on the Forty Acres at new Hollywood backdrop exhibit

Eric Webb
Austin 360
Backdrops from the film "The Shoes of the Fisherman" that recreate Sistine Chapel frescoes will be on display at Bass Concert Hall in June, including this one that depicts "Baptism of Christ" by P. Perugino.

Getting to Vatican City: hard. Getting to the University of Texas: doesn't require a plane or a passport.

Texas Performing Arts this week announced "Behind the Scenes: Hollywood's Sistine Chapel," a new exhibit coming to Bass Concert Hall next month. Following a recent show of hand-painted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film backdrops, the university arts branch will stage 18 more backdrops that comprise a nearly complete replica of the Sistine Chapel. The works given to Texas Performing Arts by the Art Directors Guild Backdrop Recovery Project are billed as "full-scale copies of the historic frescos" in a news release.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday.

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This will be the "first public viewing of the entire Sistine Chapel suite," according to the release, and they will be displayed on the concert hall's stage. The backdrops replicate frescos by Michelangelo, Perugino, Botticelli and more artists; they were created for the 1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film "The Shoes of the Fisherman."

"Denied access to film in the Sistine Chapel, the Italian-based film crew requested an emergency replica of the Sistine Chapel," according to the release. Studio scenic art supervisor George Gibson "gathered scenic artists from across Hollywood, including competing film studios, to execute this monumental task in three short months.  So convincing was their illusion that the Catholic clergy were enraged at the film's premiere, believing that the film crew had been allowed to film the actual Sistine Chapel."

Starting June 25, the exhibit will be open by reservation from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Thursday and Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The exhibit will be closed on July 4. The show ends Aug. 1. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $15 for military members and seniors, $10 for non-UT students and $12 each for groups of 10 or more. Admission is free for UT students, faculty and staff and Texas Inner Circle members.

For more information on the backdrops that are part of the exhibit and to make reservations, go to texasperformingarts.org