A Michelangelo ‘Digital David’ Will Fly to the Dubai Expo

The digital David contemplating its fate while it is being packaged for shipment in Palazzo degli Alessandri

Michelangelo’s David now has a digital twin: a digitized version of the famous sculpture has been completed in a laboratory workshop in Florence. The original sculpture remains in the Accademia Gallery in Florence while its twin has traveled to Dubai to represent Italy at the Universal Exposition in Dubai, which kicks off on October 1, 2021.  The digital David was officially presented to the public in Dubai on April 27, with Florence mayor Dario Nardella in attendance.

Its production began in December and involved sophisticated software and 3D printing, resulting in a total of 14 separate pieces. The new ‘David’ has the same dimensions (517 cm, nearly 17 ft. high) as its brother, but weighs significantly less: 400 kilograms plus 150 for its base compared to five tons. It is made of acrylic resin covered in Carrara marble powder.  For a visual representation of the process, view this video.

The sculpture was created and kept in the high-ceilinged, 14th century Palazzo degli Alessandri in Florence’s historic center and was loaded onto two trucks––one for the statue and one for the base––to be taken to a warehouse where it will await its flight from Milan to Dubai. 

The project was coordinated by Grazia Tucci, professor in the civil engineering department at the University of Florence, in collaboration with technicians from Hexagon Italian and restoration specialist Nicola Salvioli. Together, the team was able to design a realistic replica of the marble sculpture carved by Michelangelo between 1501 and 1504. 

Paola Glisenti, section commissioner for Italy at the Expo, explains the digital twin represents a multidisciplinary approach to digital art and technology. ‘David’ now bridges the gap between antiquity and modern technology, marking a second rebirth of art, truth, and science. Cecilie Hollberg, director of the Accademia Gallery, adds that the twin symbolizes the cultural heritage of Italy.  (elizabeth berry)