The Italian marketplace is going to help preserve a piece of Italian history.

By Mike Pomranz
April 14, 2017
© Getty Images/DeAgostini

If you’re looking for a good meal in 2017, the upscale Italian marketplaces known as Eataly are a great place to grab ingredients or sit down for an actual dining experience. But it turns out Eataly also wants to help out with a meal that’s been around over 500 years: The brand recently announced it is stepping in to finance an “advanced air filtration system” intended to help preserve the iconic Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Supper.

Originally completed in 1498, The Last Supper has had a tough time remaining in top condition over the intervening 500-plus years. The painting, which is actually a mural inside the Santa Maria delle Grazie church in Milan, has survived war, vandalism and even the church’s temporary stint as a prison. As a result, it’s had to undergo multiple restorations throughout the centuries. “One reason it's so famous is because its survival is something of a miracle,” Ross King, author of the book Leonardo and the Last Supper, recently told Business Insider. "It's the art world's most famous endangered species.” Currently though, the work’s biggest threat is the people who visit it. Despite a limit of just 1,300 visitors a day, each person causes “microscopic dust” to damage the painting a tiny bit at a time.

That’s where Eataly has stepped in. Italy’s Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism collaborated with top Italian researchers to create the aforementioned air filtration system, which everyone hopes can help preserve the painting. “The cutting-edge system will filter in approximately 10,000 cubic meters of clean air into the convent every day (compared to the current 3,500 cubic meters), breathing five centuries of life into The Last Supper and allowing many more visitors to admire it,” according to a statement. Needless to say, all that science takes money—cubic meters of air won’t measure themselves—and Eataly has lent financial backing to the project.

The magical new air filtration system is slated for installation by 2019, at which point The Last Supper should theoretically be good to go until the year 2519. At that point, Eataly probably might not even be around anymore, though its reputation for saving The Last Supper might be. Now that’s good marketing.