The Scrovegni Chapel, dedicated to St. Mary of the Charity, frescoed between 1303 and 1305 by Giotto, upon the commission of Enrico degli Scrovegni, is one of the most important masterpieces of Western art. The frescoes, which narrate events in the lives of the Virgin Mary and Christ, cover the entire walls. On the wall opposite the altar is the grandiose Universal Judgement, which concludes the story of human salvation.
The chapel was originally attached to the Scrovegni family palace, built after 1300, following the elliptical outline of the remains of the Roman arena.
The Chapel was acquired by the City of Padova in1880, and the vulnerable frescoes were subjected to several specialized restoration operations during the 19th and 20th centuries. From the 1970s until today, thanks to close collaboration between the city administration, cultural heritage authorities and the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro, the state of the building, the quality of the air in it, polluting factors, and the state of conservation of the frescoes themselves have all been subjected to careful study and monitoring. The addition of the new access building, with its special air-conditioned waiting-room, means that even great influxes of visitors can enter the Chapel and admire Giotto's masterpiece without further jeopardizing its fragile condition in any way.
The latest checks, which show that the condition of the frescoes is now stable, have allowed them to be restored further - delicate operations undertaken by the Istituto Centrale per il Restauro - thanks to an agreement between the City of Padova and the Italian Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali.
Since 26 March 2003, a room in the Eremitani Museum has been equipped with 7 workstations, some of which are multimedia, in order to allow visitors to study the frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel and obtain information about the historical and artistic period in which Giotto lived and worked.
The use of various multimedia options (pictures, sound, commentaries, and real or multimedia reconstructions) will enable visitors to play an active role and virtually enter reconstructed areas. There are both "passive" and "active" study approaches, in which visitors can personally interact. They can thus become familiar with Giotto's art and its historical context, and concentrate on their favourite themes at the same time.