Italy art museum shuts amid heat wave due to faulty air con

Tourists queueing to enter the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. An air-conditioning breakdown has caused the Uffizi Galleries in Florence to shut its doors to the public as Italy sizzles in a heat wave. Italy’s celebrated art museum said technicians were working Friday to fix the air conditioning system so it can re-open later in the day. It was staying closed for at least three hours. (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP)
Tourists queueing to enter the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy, Friday, Aug. 4, 2017. An air-conditioning breakdown has caused the Uffizi Galleries in Florence to shut its doors to the public as Italy sizzles in a heat wave. Italy’s celebrated art museum said technicians were working Friday to fix the air conditioning system so it can re-open later in the day. It was staying closed for at least three hours. (Maurizio Degl'Innocenti/ANSA via AP)

ROME — The Uffizi Galleries art museum in the Italian city of Florence shut its doors to the public Friday amid a heat wave because of problems with its air conditioning system.

The Renaissance art capital has a reputation for being one of Italy's hottest cities every summer. But a heat wave gripping the nation for days, and coming on top of a weeks-long drought, was making it tougher to stay cool.

Temperatures in Florence hit at least 101 F (nearly 39 C) on Friday. Rome temperatures this week were around 100 F (38 C).

Uffizi Galleries director Eike Schmidt said because the level of the Arno River, which flows through Florence, was so low the museum couldn't draw as much water from it as it usually does for its industrial-scaled cooling system.

Standing outside the galleries as tourists waited in line for ticket reimbursements, Schmidt told SkyTG24 TV the cooling system was still working well enough to keep its masterpieces climate-controlled and avoid damage.

But the heat generated by "even a few hundred people" visiting the museum could tax the system to the point it wouldn't be able to guarantee the cool temperatures needed to safeguard the paintings, he said.

The Uffizi had arranged for trucks to bring in enough water to make sure the Uffizi's air conditioning would be up and running on Saturday for the public to return, he said.

Initially, the museum said it had hoped to re-open its doors later Friday afternoon.

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