The Dancing Satyr – New technology in the art world

Aichi 2005 EXPO – new technology in the art world

The Dancing Satyr is housed in the Italian Pavilion at the Aichi Expo, thanks to advanced restoration technology that made not only exhibiting it possible, but also its transportation.

This website was designed in order to document all the stages involved in transporting and exhibiting the Dancing Satyr, from the time it left the Museum in Mazara del Vallo, until its arrival in the Aichi Italian Pavilion at the Expo 2005 of Aichi, where it will stay until September 2005.


The outdoor exhibit for the Italian Pavilion, whose theme is the Art of Living, includes various products that represent both technological and industrial progress and the culture of some Italian regions. 

Technicians from the Central Restoration Institute and Montenovi moving the statue inside the giant, 11-metre tall pearl. 

The Government’s General Commissioner, Umberto Donati, Director of the Italian Pavilion, Salvatore Damiani, and restorer Paola Donati watching the preparations by technicians from the Central Restoration Institute to place the Satyr in the centre of the pearl. 

The Satyr turned vertically before starting to lift it to a height of 6 metres in line with the support bar, for displaying it in the centre of the pearl. 

After having protected the statue in transit from Italy to Japan, the shell allows all the adjustments necessary for moving the Satyr to be carried out and, thanks to the system of hooks set up by technicians from the Physics Laboratory, this can now be done without having to expose the statue to the risks posed by traditional handling methods. 

The statue during the lifting stage. 

The statue before it was set up, using a 3,10 m tall support bar, on an anti-seismic base made by Ansaldo Ricerche. 

The technicians add additional protection for the Satyr for removing the scaffolding used to position the statue in the centre of the giant pearl. 

The carbon fibre “shell” is removed, after having protected the statue while in transit and while being moved about.  This makes it possible for visitors to the Italian Pavilion to admire the Satyr for the entire duration of the Aichi 2005 EXPO. 

Fitting the left leg completes the final stage in setting up the Satyr.  From left to right: Gian Piero Jacobelli, Director of the cultural project for the Italian Pavilion, Umberto Donati, General Commissioner, and Salvatore Calamusa, the Satyr’s curator at the Museum in Mazara del Vallo watching the final stages of setting up the Satyr.  

Raffaella D’Amico and Roberto Ciabattoni carry out final checks on the Dancing Satyr. 

Final testing of the lighting system set up in the giant pearl. 

A play of light and shadow shows off the Satyr and simulates its dance inside the giant pearl. 

The Italian Pavilion provides a stunning exhibition, combining some works of art and autochthonous technology.  In the background, the giant pearl built to house the Satyr while it is being exhibited.  Screens were set up on the walls of the Pavilion for projecting videos and images depicting Italy.  Part of the Pavilion intended to provide a visual representation of some regions of Italy.  The photo shows the Friuli Venezia Giulia region.  Tuscany Region Exhibit.  Puglia Region Exhibit. 

Piedmont Region Exhibit. 

Campania Region Exhibit.

Calabria Region Exhibit.

Veneto Region Exhibit.

Sicily Region Exhibit.

The Italian Pavilion also allows visitors to view numerous works by contemporary Italian artists.  Photo – artist:  Giuliano Vangi – work:  Ragazza con il vestito blu [Girl in a blue dress] – 1992 – marble, granite and other multi-coloured stones.  Collection:  Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Photo – artist: Michelangelo Pistoletto L’Etrusco – work:  Bronzo e specchio [Bronze and mirror] – year: 1992. Collection: Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Photo – artist: Fabrizio Plessi – Mare orizzontale [Horizontal sea] – 1976 – two monitors mounted on an iron structure – Bologna – Collection: Alessia Calarota 

Photo – artist: Luciano Vistosi – Sole [Sun] – 1992 – glass mounted on a metal structure.  Murano.  Collection: Luciano Vistosi

Photo – artist: Fabrizio Corneli – Satiro [Satyr] – 2005 – painted brass.

The “Caffè Torino” is situated in on the first floor. This space is set aside for tasting coffees and fine Italian wines, as well as pleasant musical entertainment. 

During a concert at the “Caffè Torino”. 


The Dancing Satyr

The Dancing Satyr was found in the Sicily Canal on 4th March 1988.  Its arms and right leg, which supported it, were missing, and the left leg had been separated from the body.  Restoration involved solving the problem of reassembling the detached parts, a support for exhibiting the Satyr in a museum, and the damaged caused by the bronze corroding and the considerable marine concretions.


The Dancing Satyr:  detail of the face and hair after restoration.

The statue was found during a fishing contest, by fishermen on board of the “Capitan Ciccio” between Capo di Bon and Mazara del Vallo, at a depth of more than 450 metres.

The “Capitan Ciccio” fishing boat in the port at Mazara del Vallo, where the statue is housed in the church of St. Egidius, which has been turned into a museum.

The statue, two metres tall and weighing about one hundred kilograms, at the time it was found, still wrapped in the fishing nets.  The statue was initially housed in the Multi-purpose Cultural Centre in Mazara del Vallo for initial inspection.  Subsequently, it was moved to the Central restoration Institute in Rome.

Restoration work was directed by Roberto Petriaggim with financing being provided by the Europa Metalli SpA Company (SMI Group).  The Satyr’s left leg remained detached until the work had been completed.  Ansaldo Ricerche built an anti-seismic base to a design by Claudio Mazzieri, for the museum in Mazara del Vallo and for exhibiting the work in Japan.

A rotating worktop, designed by Giorgio Raselli and Giovanni Santucci and built by CMB Bonifazi, made it possible to move the statue safely throughout cleaning and restoration work on the bronze.

The bronze statue showed corrosion markings that were uneven in terms of colouration, thickness, and consistency.  The surface also appeared to be covered in concretions and marine sediments of various kinds (serpulidae, madrepore, and bivalvia).  The picture shows the state of the surface before, during, and after restoration.

Paola Donati – restorer at the ICR – during the restoration works.

On completion of the works the statue was treated to guard against corrosion, using Benzotriazolo with 3% ethyl alcohol.  This treatment was applied by brush a number of times until it had been completely imbibed by the metal.  Besides being necessary to preserve the piece, this also improved the appearance of the surface patina, which had been damaged by corrosion, making the hues more uniform.

The very porous surface had to be consolidated using Paraloid B 72, dissolved in a mixture of 64% Mek and 36% Octane.  This solidifier made all the areas that had lost their outer layer more compact and solid.  The fact that the leg that supported the statue was missing meant that an internal support structure had to be designed and built, to allow the Satyr to be exhibited properly.

Neo-Attic bas-relief, one of the numerous iconographic comparisons that are possible, with Menade and the Dancing Satyr (mid 1st century A.D. inv. 6705 Ducal Palace – Mantua).

This statue, made using the traditional lost-wax casting method was attributed to Prassitele by Paolo Moreno (Professor of Archaeology and the History of Greek and Roman Art at Rome’s Tre University).  Not all students agree on the fact that the bronze statue found may be of Greek origin. 


Laser scanning

In order to study the inner support system in order to restore the statue to a formal unit and to allow it to be exhibited, a 3-D digital model of the Satyr was made, using new reverse engineering and rapid prototyping processes based on 3-D laser scanning.

The Laser ray is directed into the statue's surface and measures the x, y, and z coordinates of millions of points.  This means that the shape of the Satyr can be transferred from the bronze’s material dimensions to immaterial geometrical dimensions.


The Laser ray while 3-D scanning the surface.

During scanning the Laser ray moves along horizontal lines, as can be seen in the film footage.

The 3-D laser scanner used by the Physics Laboratory at the Central Restoration Institute in collaboration with Fox Bit of Naples, in the process of detecting the shape and acquiring the data required for constructing the corresponding 3-D digital model.

The "diffinitor" designed by Leon Battista Alberti (Genoa 1404 - Rome 1472) used by artists to take the measurements required to work on a sculpture properly, predated modern technology by 600 years. 

The “clouds” of points obtained from the various angles from which the piece is scanned, are displayed on the computer monitor in different colours. 

Detail of the face.


The 3-D digital model

When combined, the “clouds of points” make up the 3-D digital model of the Satyr.  The coordinates measured are used to display the piece on the computer as well as for any applications of use for the restoration, preservation, and fruition of the work of art.


Given the high frequency of surface measurements taken (up to 10 points per millimetre) the images must subsequently be enlarged to make it possible to appreciate the geometric distribution of the points in space.

Detail of the eye and nose.

Detail of the eye enlarged to twice the actual size.

Ferdinando Provera busy processing the 3-D digital model.

All of the “clouds” of points acquired can be put together to make up the 3-D digital model of the entire statue. 

Comparing the original face with that of the model gives an indication of the geometric conformity.

Recomposition of the statue is simulated by translating the x, y, and z coordinates for points on the left leg.  

The left leg was mirrored to produce a right leg as well, making it possible to formulate possible hypotheses for reconstructing the missing leg.

The 3-D model of the surface is made using mesh.  This is a network of triangular polygons obtained by interpolating all the points on the model.  The size of the triangles is the measure of the degree to which the model can be represented and the surface displayed.

The images show the rendering on the digital model but, since they are static, they are limited to a few viewing points and only allow a partial appreciation of its three-dimensionality. 

The 3-D model of the Dancing Satyr following virtual reconstruction of the left leg.  The model’s three-dimensionality can only be appreciated when it is moved on the computer monitor in order to be viewed from all of the viewing angles required.

When the Satyr is rotated about its own axis, a spherical surface is generated.  This is highlighted by the arc of the circumference that can be viewed from two symmetrical positions.


The Prototype

A mesh of the connected triangular polygons is formed by interpolating all the points mathematically.  The surface generated in this way defines the artistic shape that can be used as a matrix, for making a Prototype of the statue, using new automatic rapid prototyping procedures.


The prototype is made up of parallel sections, using an automatic fabrication process that solidifies 0,1 mm thick layers of gypsum powder.  The surface of the prototype shows the lines of passage from one layer to the next.  The physical model also shows the marine concretions that were on it at the time the 3-D digital scanning took place, before restoration.

The prototype can be made to the size scale required, which can be equal to, smaller than, or larger than the actual size.

Current rapid prototyping methods do not allow shapes to be created that occupy a volume that exceeds 50x50x50 cm.  In order to create a 1:1 scale prototype of the Satyr, the 3-D digital model was broken down into 6 parts. 

The 6 parts after virtual separation.

This shows how the 3-D (rapid prototyping) “printer” forms the pieces of the face and torso.

More parts of the Satyr during the automatic fabrication process. 

The master moulder, Alessandro Fagioli, combined the 6 prototyped parts to form a physical 1:1 scale model. 

Having combined all the prototype parts, traditional moulding methods were used to make a silicone resin cast, which was used to make a plaster model that in turn was used to construct the support and protective devices. 

The plaster model after the surface had been finished by hand. 

Finishing the surface of the prototype by hand also meant that a true copy could be produced without having to subject the original statue to the risks related with direct casts.  This means that the Satyr’s shape will still be kept in the Mazara del Vallo Museum, for the 6 months that the original is on display at the Aichi 2005 EXPO in Japan.


The support system

The Prototype and the 3-D digital model are useful for designing the system to be used to reconstruct the detached leg before doing any work on the original, in order to reinstate the Satyr's unity of form and to show it standing on its feet.


The digital and physical models were used to develop the reversible assembly system used to present the Satyr standing up.

The physical model, which shows a schematic view of the solution adopted for constructing the first support system designed and built by Giorgio Raselli, Giovanni Santucci, and CMB Bonifazi, made it possible to check the validity of the assembly system before it was used on the original statue.

The new support system positioned inside the statue was made of layered carbon fibre, with the help of Eligio Re Fraschini. 

The mechanical devices used to replace the detached leg were made of titanium and ergal by Enter Engineering & Technological Research. 

In order to make the supports that are located inside the statue, Raffaella D’Amico made silicone casts of the inside of the shoulders and Paola Donati made those of the inside of the calf.

The moulds made from the casts of the inside were used to construct the carbon supports.

The restorer Raffaella D’Amico, who made the casts of the inside, during a trial positioning of the supports inside the statue.

The completed supports, in position inside the Satyr.

Stages in layering the carbon fibres carried out to make the internal supports. 

The Satyr’s face seen from the inside - photograph by Roberto Ciabattoni.

Many traces of the works procedures used can be seen on the internal surface of the cast of the casting, and give important indications as to how the artist may have worked. 

Experts have not yet reached a unanimous agreement on how these traces should be interpreted.  Some maintain that they are due to the canes used in the moulding phase before the wax was modelled, in order to support the internal core of the casting and to improve its loadbearing function.  This theory is compatible with the viewpoint that the statue was made using a direct procedure.

Others believe that the traces are due to the marks left by the spatulas used when shaping the wax.  This theory suggests that the statue was made using an indirect procedure.

One support theory looked at involves the possible reconstruction of the missing leg. 


The protective devices

The shell is intended to house and protect the statue, like a case for a precious cello, whenever it is moved.


Fitting the protective “shell” around the Satyr.

The plaster model during preparations before working with the carbon fibres.

The model is divided into 4 parts for making the protective "shell".

Carbon lamination and layering phases.

Applying the layered carbon on the model.

Layering the carbon directly on the model.

Applying the detaching agent.

On completion of the lamination procedure, preliminary work begins on preparing the vacuum bag.

Preparing the vacuum bag.

The model while the vacuum is applied, in order to further consolidate the layered carbon.

The layered carbon protective “shell” after the vacuum was applied.

Cutting the carbon to separate the “shell”.

Two parts of the “shell” after cutting.

Preliminary testing of the front shield.

Preliminary testing of the “shell” around the Satyr. 

Giorgio Accardo and Roberto Ciabattoni checking the alignment of the "shell".

Final checking before proceeding with final positioning of the plates for joining the 4 shields.

Constructing the reinforcing and joining plates for the 4 parts.

Fitting the finished “shell” around the Satyr.

Tests for handling the Satyr with the “shell” in place.

Technicians from the Montenovi Company while lifting the statue.


Touch shapes

The Dancing Satyr can also be made available to the blind, because the geometry of the prototypes made in this way is the same as the shape of the original statue.  This means that the blind person can use their sense of touch to appreciate the artistic shape using the physical model and not putting the original in any danger of being damaged.


The 1:1 scale model can also be used to make a copy for study purposes and for tactile contact.

Representatives of the Italian Association of the Blind - models of various scales, made for studying the shape by touch.

“Touch shapes" is an idea put together by Giorgio Accardo to create a tactile visit for the blind to the museums in which the sculptures are on exhibition.  This experience can also be extended to seeing visitors. This project is linked with the exhibition of the Satyr in Japan. 

Kits containing models and all the necessary information will be put together in collaboration with the Educational Services Centre of the Direzione Generale per i Beni Storico-Artistici e Demoetnoantropologici, for distribution to associations for the blind.



The Dancing Satyr completes the first leg of its trip to Japan, where it will be exhibited for the month of march in the Tokyo National Museum.   The Satyr was taken to Japan thanks to the futuristic project put together by the ICR and the involvement of the Italy-Japan Foundation and the Youmiuri newspaper, and will continue its journey to the Italian Pavilion at the Universal Aichi 2005 EXPO. 


The crate made by the Montenovi Company for transporting the Dancing Satyr, inside the Tokyo National Museum.

The workgroup from the Central Restoration Institute with Cristiano and Massimiliano Montenovi before the crate was opened.

Technicians from the ICR just before the crate carrying the Satyr was opened.

The crate just after it was opened.

5. Mazara del Vallo’s Dancing Satyr is in Tokyo.

Checking by the ICR technicians begins.

The Satyr is taken to the hall in the Tokyo National Museum in which it will be exhibited.  The scaffolding for moving it has already been prepared.

Operations to place it on its anti-seismic base begin.

Safe handling of the Satyr, thanks to the protective “shell”.

The Satyr in mid-air before being positioned on its base. 

The Satyr in position on the anti-seismic base.

Operations begin to remove the shields used during transportation and handling.

The futuristic carbon fibre body made by the Physics Laboratory of the ICR, inside the crate used to transport the statue from Mazara del Vallo to the Tokyo National Museum.

The leg is prepared that will be fitted using the new titanium and carbon fibre fixing system created by the Physics Laboratory of the ICR in collaboration with  ENTER Engineering & Technological Research.

ICR technicians connect the leg to the statue positioned on its anti-seismic base.

Raffaella D'Amico, Ferdinando Provera and Roberto Ciabattoni making the final adjustments for connecting the statue to the statue.

Final checking of the correct positioning of the leg.

Installation of the Dancing Satyr inside the museum is complete.

The first visitors.  From the outset the statue attracted 2,000 to 4,000 visitors per day. 

A section for the blind was set up in the museum, with scale reproductions of the Dancing Satyr, produced using the digital model.  A 1:5 scale bronze model.

A group of people touching another 1:2 scale model of the Satyr.  Giorgio Accardo decided to extend the “Touch shapes” project to seeing visitors as well.

The same tactile visit was also created in the Mazara del Vallo Museum.


Video: Video made for the Aichi 2005 EXPO
Director: Giuseppe Casu
Music: Ferdinando Provera



The exhibiting of the Dancing Satyr at the Tokyo National Museum and Aichi 2005 EXPO was due to the collaboration between the MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, the Government’s general Commissioner, and Aichi 2005 EXPO.
Umberto Donati, General Commissioner

Research, Innovation and Organisation Department
Giuseppe Proietti, Head of Department

Istituto Centrale di Restauro [Central Restoration Institute]
Caterina Bon Valsassina, Director

Department of Cultural and Environmental Heritage and Public Education
Alessandro Pagano, Councillor

Trapani Cultural and Environmental Heritage Superintendency
Giuseppe Gini, Superintendent
Rossella Giglio, Director of the Satyr Museum -

City of Mazara del Vallo
Giorgio Macaddino, Mayor

“New technologies in the art world - from bronze to digital” is a project that made it possible for the satyr to travel to Japan and it was put together by the  Central Restoration Institute – Physics and Environmental Testing Laboratory
Giorgio Accardo: Scientific director on the project
Roberto Ciabattoni: design and fabrication
Ferdinando Provera: 3-D digital model
Giuseppe Casu: video footage
Nucleo Archeologia Subacquea [Archaeological Diving Club]
Roberto Petriaggi: restoration and coordination management
Paola Donati: restoration

With technical and scientific assistance from:
Niklas Andersson: Web, multimedia and graphics coordinator
Massimo Berretta: photography
Raffaella D'Amico: internal casts and shaping of composite material
Alessandro Fagioli: plaster and resin models
Giovanni Santucci: Mechanical and Aeronautical Department of Rome’s “La Sapienza” University.

and the sponsors:

ANSALDO RICERCHE: anti-seismic base
ELIGIO RE FRASCHINI: internal carbon support
Enter Engineering & Technological Research: steel and titanium components
FOX BIT: reverse engineering and rapid prototype
INDIANA YACHTING: external carbon components
MONTENOVI: transportation and handling
SOFT-S.I.A: multimedia and www

Any reproduction, albeit partial, of the images and texts contained on this website is forbidden.