SECRET ROOM HOLDS ‘LOST’ MICHELANGELO ARTWORK by Claudia Kalb

In 1975, Paolo Dal Poggetto, then director of the Medici Chapels museum in Florence, stumbled upon a Renaissance treasure.

While searching for a new way for tourists to exit, Dal Poggetto and his colleagues discovered a trapdoor hidden beneath a wardrobe near the New Sacristy, a chamber designed to house the ornate tombs of Medici rulers. Below the trapdoor, stone steps led to an oblong room filled with coal that at first appeared to be little more than storage space.

But on the walls, Dal Poggetto and his colleagues found what they believe are charcoal and chalk drawings from the hand of famed artist Michelangelo. While the room is closed to the public to protect the artwork, National Geographic photographer Paolo Woods was recently granted rare access to capture its remarkable contents.

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