London, Sept 20 : Michelangelo's statue of David in Florence is "at risk of collapse" because of its exposure to mass tourism, say Italian experts.
According to Antonio Borri, professor of construction engineering at Perugia University and part of the team monitoring the statue's state of conservation, the cracks which been repaired during a 2004 restoration marking the 500th anniversary of the statue's creation had re-appeared.
The options for saving the statue, which is kept at the Galleria dell Accademia, will be discussed in a seminar in Florence tomorrow.
These include enclosing it in a protective covering to stop further deterioration and even closing it to the public altogether for a period.
Professor Borri, who is a Florentine, said that the cracks had "re-opened one by one. David is coming apart". He said the blame lay with traffic vibrations and the pressure of thousands of daily visitors.
Professor Borri said that Michelangelo's masterpiece - held by many to be the most perfect representation of the nude male form ever sculpted - was also vulnerable because of its huge size and the poor quality of marble Michelangelo used.
He said that the statue was under "round the clock observation", and seismic monitors would be inserted under the statue's base to measure the vibrations.
"We have got to do something quickly," TimesOnline quoted him, as saying.