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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 September, 2004, 09:12 GMT 10:12 UK
David celebrates 500th birthday
David was cleaned up between May 2003 and May 2004
Michelangelo's famous sculpture David is celebrating its 500th birthday in Florence, where it was first unveiled on 8 September, 1504.

The Italian city will showcase nine months of festivities for the event.

"It's now the time we really begin to understand how much David... can mean to our present and future," said Franca Felletti of the Galleria dell'Accademia, where David is on show.

Michelangelo sculpted David sometime between 1502 and 1504.

"Rather than sending him to his pension we are putting him back to work," said Ms Felletti.

The sculpture attracts millions of visitors from around the world every year.

Still going strong

Canadian tourist Pat Fisico said: "I don't think he looks a day over 22, he's the same age when Michelangelo made him. That's great - another 500 years is a long time and he will be around for another 5,000 years I hope."

David underwent a painstaking clean-up process last year to remove grime and sulphate deposits using distilled water and cellulose.

The restoration had drawn criticism from art-lovers who feared the statue could be damaged during cleaning.

The work was undertaken in full view of the public at the Galleria dell'Accademia and was unveiled last May.

The celebrations for David's 500th birthday include concerts, fireworks, exhibitions and special memorabilia.

The BBC's Guto Harri
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