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Vatican Fits Sensors to Preserve Priceless Sistine Chapel

The Sistine Chapel has been fitted with detectors to check for pollution from its millions of visitors every year that could harm priceless frescoes by Michelangelo and Botticelli.

Vatican Museums director Antonio Paolucci explained in the Holy See's official daily, Osservatore Romano, on Thursday that the initiative was in order to update the building's air conditioning and ventilating system.

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Ancient Roman Pillar Collapses at Pompeii Villa

A pillar was found collapsed at an ancient Roman villa in Pompeii on Thursday, as the government prepares a series of measures to preserve the unique but dilapidated archaeological area.

Police were called in to carry out checks at the picturesque Loreius Tiburtinus villa from the 2nd century BC after the collapse of a pillar supporting one of the pergolas there was noticed by local technical staff.

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Mexico Mayan Region Launches Apocalypse Countdown

Seize the day.

Only 52 weeks and a day are left before Dec. 21, 2012, when some believe the Maya predicted the end of the world.

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'The Nutcracker' Rings in Holiday Cheer for Americans

When "The Nutcracker" comes to U.S. theaters, the two-act ballet that enchants children around the world ushers in the Christmas season, on an equal footing with Santa Claus and decorated fir trees.

"It's just an American tradition... When you hear about 'The Nutcracker,' Christmas is right there," said Barb Wilbur, a teacher in Kennewick, Washington state, who has taken her grandchildren to see the show for the past seven years.

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Hepworth Statue Latest Target of British Metal Thieves

Police were searching Wednesday for a sculpture by renowned British artist Barbara Hepworth which thieves tore from its plinth in a London park.

The theft of the bronze work of art, called Two Forms (Divided Circle), is the latest in a spate of metal thefts as prices have soared.

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Russian Enamels Bequeathed to Walters Art Museum

Hundreds of Russian enamels collected over decades by a Washington arts patron have been given to the Walters Art Museum, which said Tuesday that the gift reaffirms its position as a leading center for the study of Russian art.

More than 260 enamels from the 17th through the early 20th centuries are in the collection amassed by Jean M. Riddell, who died last year at the age of 100. The private collection was internationally recognized as the finest of its kind in the United States and also includes important additions to the museum's holdings of Faberge works, the museum said.

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Oy Vey! Yiddish Making a Comeback at Colleges

A group of American college students stands in a semicircle, clapping and hopping on one foot as they sing in Yiddish: "Az der rebe zingt, Zingen ale khsidim!"

"When the rebbe dances, so do all the Hasidim," the lyrics go.

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Swiss Museum Acts to Prevent Rhino Horn Theft

A Swiss museum has taken the drastic step of replacing the horns of its rhinoceroses with fake ones to deter thieves fuelling a lucrative global trade, curators said Tuesday.

Staff at Bern's Natural History Museum cut off the horns of its six display animals and put crude wooden ones in their place amid concerns they would be targeted.

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Stone Lion Resumes Post in Spain's Alhambra

One of 12 marble lions that stand watch in Spain's historic Moorish palace, the Alhambra, in Granada returned to its spot Monday after being restored by experts.

A miniature crane lowered the 300-kilogramme (660-pound) stone beast into place at the foot of a fountain in the Court of the Lions at the heart of the palace, one of Spain's biggest tourist attractions.

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Model of Jet Fighter Missing from Dutch Museum

A large model of an American jetfighter has mysteriously disappeared from a small Dutch museum and its owners are hoping pranksters rather than scrap metal thieves are responsible for what they call the "jetnapping."

Edwin van Brakel, chairman of the Museum Vliegbasis Deelen, says the non-working model of a Lockheed Starfighter was discovered missing Sunday morning.

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