Raphael, "The Deposition" (1507), oil on wood , 184 cm × 176 cm (72 in × 69 in) (image via Wikimedia)

Raphael, “The Deposition” (1507), oil on wood , 184 cm × 176 cm (72 in × 69 in) (image via Wikipedia)

In order to visit the Galleria Borghese in Rome, you must buy timed tickets online in advance. The museum is so popular that it’s near impossible to get next-day, let alone day-of, tickets (tomorrow is sold out). People flock from all over the world to see its treasures, which include artworks by Bernini, Caravaggio, Titian, Rubens, and Raphael.

What this world-class museum does not have, however, is functional air-conditioning. It apparently hasn’t for six months. And now the heat has claimed its first victim: Raphael’s “The Deposition,” a 1507 oil painting on wood showing Jesus’s body being brought down from the cross. Temperatures and humidity inside the Galleria — where staff have been forced to set up fans and open the windows in an attempt to cool the place down — have warped the Raphael painting; the museum’s DIY fix was to set up a dehumidifier next to the work, a tactic they say has reduced the warping.

But the air-conditioning hasn’t been working for months. And it still isn’t. La Repubblica broke the news of this in May, at which time Galleria Director Anna Coliva told the paper that the air-conditioning system was installed in 1997 and is completely worn out by now, adding that there were also a few years of a complete lack of maintenance. “The request to redo it has already been in play for at least 45 years,” she said. After posing the question of how this was possible, the writer of the article answers his own question: “A request that it’s easy to suppose is lost in the mazes of Italian bureaucracy.”

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...