Officials at Milan's Duomo have devised an unusual campaign to raise funds for the cathedral's preservation: they're asking patrons to adopt the building's gargoyles.

The Gothic, pink marble-clad cathedral is one of the largest in the world and a beloved monument in the Italian city.

Due to pollution, the 14th-century building requires regular maintenance. However, recent austerity cuts to Italy's culture budget has less money for upkeep of cultural institutions, including the cathedral.


The Duomo is one of the largest cathedrals in the world. (Olivier Morin/AFP/Getty Images )

To help make up funds, Duomo management launched a campaign offering its 135 gargoyles up for "adoption."

Donors who contribute €100,000 (about $128,000 Cdn) or more will have their name engraved under one of the grotesque figures perched on the cathedral's rooftop. The figures  serve as drainage pipes.

So far, eight €100,000-donations have been made since the campaign launch, along with donations of lesser amounts.

Officials are collecting donations through their campaign website. They hope to raise about €25 million (about $32 million Cdn) overall for restoration and renovation work.

The goal is "to encourage the Milanese and citizens of the world as a whole to be protagonists in the history of the cathedral... a priceless treasure that belongs to all of humanity," organizers said.

Gargoyles, stone carvings of grotesque figures projecting from a building's walls, are often employed to drain rainwater away from the building.