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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 23:16 GMT
Air to 'guard Michelangelo David'
Michelangelo's David
The statue commemorates the biblical king of Israel, David
Michelangelo's famous statue of David could soon be enveloped in invisible jets of air to protect it from dust and corrosion, museum officials say.

More than a million tourists are said to visit the statue every year in the Italian city of Florence.

The "wall of air" is one of several steps the museum is considering that could protect the statue from dirt particles without encasing it in glass.

A controversial renovation of the statue was completed last May.

Some critics of the renovation alleged the process had gone too far, affecting the statue's artistic value.

After the restorers removed the layers of grey grime from the statue, museum officials soon noticed fresh particles of dirt, brought in by visitors, were once again disfiguring the statue, Italian news agency Ansa reports.

The Accademia gallery, home to the Renaissance-era statue, is also considering installing special carpets and a ventilated corridor that will remove dust from the shoes and clothes of visitors before they see the statue.

A top museum official from Florence said the new measures should be put in place within a year.

Michelangelo's statue commemorating David, the biblical shepherd who defeated the giant Goliath and became king of Israel, was left in the open air from 1504 to 1873.

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