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Behind the Scenes: Hollywood's Sistine Chapel

Opens Friday, June 25, 2021
Closes Sunday, August 1, 2021

Directions and Parking
Enter the exhibit through the main Bass Concert Hall doors on DeLoss Dodds Way. Parking is available in the San Jacinto Garage for $6-9. Please note that there is no free parking on the UT campus. Please visit the Directions and Parking page for more information

About the Exhibit

Among the 50 backdrops received by Texas Performing Arts from the Art Director’s Guild Backdrop Recovery Project was a nearly complete replica of the Sistine Chapel.  This exhibition will be the first public viewing of the entire Sistine Chapel suite.  See these master illusions in an immersive space designed for personal contemplation and up-close examination of this unique Hollywood motion picture art form. 

These hand-painted artworks depict scenes from the Old Testament originally painted by Renaissance Masters such as Michelangelo, Perugino, Botticelli, and others.  The backdrops on display were created for the 1968 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film The Shoes of the Fisherman

The Texas Performing Arts collection from the Backdrop Recovery Project has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning, in the Los Angeles Times, and in O, The Oprah Magazine.

Curated by Karen L. Maness, Scenic Art Supervisor at Texas Performing Arts and College of Fine Arts faculty member at The University of Texas at Austin

Soundscape design by Malyssa Quiles, Texas Theatre & Dance Graduate Student 2019

Lighting design by Seb Boone, Master Electrician at Texas Performing Arts

Special thanks to the Coakley family and JC Backings Corporation for their generous donation of painted backings to UT Austin and the ADG Archives Backdrop Recovery Project.

Exhibit Sponsors

HEB St. David's Health Care  Marquee Event Group

Reserved Admission Times:
Select a 30-minute arrival window. There is no limit on time spent in the exhibition until closing.  Reservations are required and capacity is limited.

Thursday-Friday 2:30 pm – 5:30 pm
Saturday-Sunday 10:30 am - 4:30 pm
Closed Sunday, July 4

Adults: $20
Free for Texas Inner Circle Members
Non-UT Student of any age: $10
UT Student, faculty & staff: Free
Military: $15
Seniors: $15
Groups 10+: $12

Health and Safety as of May 20, 2021:

What to expect:

  • Masks are optional inside University of Texas buildings and outdoors. For individuals who are not fully vaccinated or have weakened immune systems, masks are optional but recommended.
  • Hand sanitization stations will be available throughout our venues.
  • Restrooms and high touchpoint areas will be sanitized with increased frequency.
  • Contactless and cashless transactions to purchase food and beverages.
  • E-tickets for contactless entry.
  • Coat and hat check will not be available.
  • Photos are welcome and encouraged.

To keep our community safe, Texas Performing Arts ask that visitors:

  • Be mindful of allowing space for others in the lobbies and areas where applicable, frequently wash hands, use hand sanitizer, and be respectful of personal decisions regarding the use of masks.
  • Complete a COVID-19 symptom check before attending the event. If you have symptoms, have been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past 14 days, or had recent close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19, please stay home and contact us to exchange your ticket for another exhibit time.
  • Download their e-tickets as a PDF or to their Apple Wallet or Google Pay app on their phone before arriving at the venue and be prepared to scan their tickets at our contactless pedestal ticket scanners.

COVID-19 Vaccination
COVID-19 vaccinations are available to anyone ages 12 and older from the UT Austin COVID-19 Vaccination Hub. An appointment request form and information on walk-up hours are available from UT Health Austin. Patrons outside of Austin who want to find a vaccine locally can do so at vaccines.gov.

The Backdrops
The following backdrops will be on display:

  • Baptism of Christ, backdrop23’-8”x 12’-6” Fresco 17’-6” x 11’-0”
  • Temptations of Christ, backdrop 21’-11” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-3” x 11’-4”
  • Vocation of the Apostles, backdrop 22’-10” x 7’-1” Fresco 18’-4” x 11’-5”
  • The Sermon on the Mount, backdrop 22’-9” x 7’-1” Fresco 18’-8” x 11’-5”
  • Resurrection of Christ, backdrop 21’-4” x 12’-6”
  • Moses Leaving for Egypt, backdrop 23’-10” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-9” x 11’-8”
  • The Trials of Moses, backdrop 22’-0” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-4” x 11’-5”
  • The Crossing of the Red Sea, backdrop 22’-0” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-9” x 11’-8”
  • Descent from Mount Sinai, backdrop 21’-11” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-9” x 11”-8”
  • Punishment of the Rebels, backdrop 22’-31/2” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-4” x 11’-5”
  • Testament and Death of Moses, backdrop 20’-9 1/4” x 12’-6” Fresco 18’-9” x 11”-8”
  • Disputation over Moses’ Body, backdrop 23’-7” x 12’-6”
  • Four Saints, East wall of Sistine Chapel; (L to R) St. Caius, St. Marcellinus, St. Marcellus I, and St. Eutychians, backdrop 46’-0” x 12’-6”
  • The Last Judgement, backdrop 47’-4” x 23’-3” Fresco 39’-4” x 44’-11”
  • Sistine Chapel, Italian wall hanging, backdrop 7’-3” x 11’-4”
  • One Saint, South wall of Sistine Chapel, St. Dionysius, backdrop 11’-10” x 12’-6”
  • Two Saints, South wall of Sistine Chapel; (L to R) St. Stephan I & St. Cornelius, backdrop 19’-10” x 12’-6”
  • One Saint, South wall of Sistine Chapel: St. Anterus, backdrop 23’-8” x 12’-6” Fresco 17’-6” x 1”-0”

Behind the Scenes: Hollywood's Sistine Chapel Trailer from Texas Performing Arts on YouTube.