Les Crooks, left, interim general manager of the Raising Cane's River Center, and Paul Arrigo, right, president and CEO of Visit Baton Rouge, unveil the poster for 'Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition,' as costumed actors watch. The exhibit is coming to the River Center in April 2020.

Can't make it to the Sistine Chapel?

No problem. The Sistine Chapel is coming to you.

The traveling exhibit, "Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition" is coming to the Raising Cane's River Center April 1-30, 2020.

Baton Rouge will be the only city in the nation to show it during the spring, Interim General Manager Les Crooks said in announcing plans for the traveling exhibit Tuesday morning. 

"There is a 300-mile protection radius on each side of the city," Crooks said. "That means no one within 300 miles of the exhibit can show it 90 days prior or 90 days after it comes to Baton Rouge."

The exhibit currently is showing in Christ Cathedral in Orange County, California. It is operated by Global Touring Promotions, Inc., a company based both in the United States and the United Kingdom.

"Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel: The Exhibition" recreates the experience of walking through the Sistine Chapel, bringing the paintings a little closer to viewers.

"In the Sistine Chapel, the closest you can get to the paintings is 72 feet," Crooks said. "Here, you'll be 7 feet away."

The exhibit will be installed in Meeting Rooms at the River Center and will be open seven days a week.

Rhonda Ruffino, director of sales, marketing and events, said the River Center is funding the exhibition but declined to say how much the project will cost.

"We've been working on it since April," she said. "Les brought it to my attention, and I said, 'You had me at art,' because I have a degree in art history."

Crooks said he learned about the show through an email.

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"We thought about the success of the Josephine exhibit that came here in 2003," he said.

"Josephine: Le Grand Amour de Napoleon" showed at the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in the winter of 2003.

"We thought this would be a good opportunity to do another," he said. "We talked to Visit Baton Rouge, and they're helping us to promote it."

The exhibit offer full scale reproductions of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling paintings using state of the art technology.

According to the exhibit's website, "The overwhelming impression for the observer will be the dimensions of the art, the closeness to the picture, and the modern style of the exhibition. As a result, the visitor can explore the artwork up close at a distance impossible to achieve in the Sistine Chapel."

"There will also be audio tours," Crooks said. "And we're in the process of planning some educational programs."

Crooks said the River Center is reaching out to schools in the Baton Rouge area and as far as Pensacola, Florida, along the Gulf Coast.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome said the exhibit will draw more visitors to Baton Rouge in the spring.

"It will be the closest city where you will be able to find one of reproductions of one of the most notable paintings in the world," she said.

Crooks said presale tickets will go on sale Aug. 23 and will be available to the public on Sept. 2.

Tickets will be $17.50 for adults, $12.50 for groups of 10 or more and $7.50 for children and are available by visiting raisingcanesrivercenter.com, ticketmaster.com or the River Center box office.      

Email Robin Miller at romiller@theadvocate.com