First the West Coast Trail, and now the Vatican, has had to move towards a reservation system to deal with overcrowding:
…the number of visitors to the Vatican has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, hitting a high of 4.2 million in 2006, and has resulted in the overcrowding of a structure originally built to accommodate a Renaissance papal court, not up to 20,000 visitors at a time shuffling around one another.
Between enormous tour groups and rowdy school-trippers, a visit to the Vatican Museums can become “more of a traumatic than an artistic experience for tourists,” said Paola, one of several guides who were interviewed and who asked that their full names not be used for fear of offending the Vatican.
—Elisabetta Povoledo, Tour groups get top priority as Vatican alters visitor rules (The Record.com).
I say, spread some of those priceless art treasures around! Who knows, it might actually boost church attendance if people knew they could sit next to a Michelangelo or Giotto every Sunday. Not that one can ship frescoes around but you know what I mean. It makes me wonder what happened to church art. Where did the starry ceilings and carved stations go? It seems that as the visual richness of the secular world has increased, that of the sacred world has decreased. Well, I’d better stop questioning before I go looking for a book on the history of church art!