Series of 48 Bookcases Under Restoration

Our Art Historian, Romina, illuminates the restorations on 48 amazing bookcases completed by Mario Cretoni in the mid 19th century. These currently live in the Gallery of Urban VIII.  The delicately ornate bookcases feature scenes of Rome and the Vatican from the 1800s. Thank you to our Florida Chapter for helping us restore these Vatican treasures.

See the video here!

Cretoni’s Bookcases, FL Chapter from Vatican Patrons of the Arts on Vimeo.

Restoration of Etruscan Treasures – Thanks to Our Florida Patrons

One of the most fruitful bronze age sites has been the Tomb of Regolini Galassi. Discovered in 1836 in Cerveteri this tomb can still be visited today. Etruscan tombs of this kind often held ceremonial artifacts in gold, bronze, and silver and excavation here unearthed a chariot, silverware, gilded and bronze ware and precious jewels assumed to be the property of the deceased.etruscan treasures 2

Today, several artifacts from this excavation grace the Vatican Museum and thanks to the support of our Florida Patrons (particularly Mr. and Mrs. John Koch) they are being properly cared for and restored. In particular, eleven bronze ribbed paterae (plates), originally placed along the cell walls of the tomb as well as ceremonial vases of oriental origin that were used in entombment rituals of Etruscan royal classes are being cleaned and refurbished for display. In addition, four ceremonial shields have been restored and their parts reconnected/strengthened using “resina epossidica” – a special artificial acrylic resin that allows the reintegration of missing areas without negative reaction to the bronze surface.

This important project restoring some of the most representative Etruscan artifacts extant, shows a true glimpse into history and the lives (and deaths) of people from over 2500 years ago.

Watch this video of Restorer Chiara Omodei Zorin from the Metal and Ceramics Restoration Lab for more information and a behind-the-scenes look!


If this project interests you – consider becoming a Patron 

Check out more restoration videos on our site by clicking here.

Filling in the Gaps: Etruscan Vase Restoration with Behind the Scenes Video!

From the 7th to 4th Century B.C. the Etruscans produced volumes of expressive greek pottery making them the largest producer of such work outside of Greece. Amazingly, over 2500 years later we are still able to reconstruct these artistic treasures while preserving their narrative and respecting their age and importance.

In the restoration labs at the Vatican we are currently working on 17 precious Etruscan vases with restorations expected to be finished this May. There are a few intriguing aspects of these particular reconstructions which are being completed by restorer Giulia Barella.

See the video behind the scenes!

  • What is conservative restoration?


Shards of pottery can get lost over the millennia leaving small gaps in the artistic imagery. Instead of trying to guess at possible filler for these lost pieces, Barella has chosen to retain the full integrity of the piece as we understand it. Where there are gaps she uses a monochrome touch up piece that resembles the background of the base. This kind of conservative restoration means that there are no assumptions and viewers have an unblemished and unbiased view of the existing work.  See the video for how this looks!

  • Sometimes earlier restorations can hinder the work today

For example, one vase on display had to be disassembled before it could be restored. Restoration in the 1800s was crude by today’s standards. Therefore, we melted away the animal based glue they used in the 19th century and separated the 30 composite pieces before Ms. Barella was able to  continue with her own work of puzzling the shards back together with more modern and sustainable adhesive.

It is thanks to the Canadian Chapter that we can continue restoration on these amazing pieces. Stay tuned for more information on this demanding and rewarding project that allows a glimpse into artisans work from thousands of years ago.

(And for a glimpse into life inside the Ceramic and Metal Restoration Laboratorysee this video!)


Vatican Museums Director, Antonio Paolucci

Vatican Museums Director, Antonio Paolucci


The Day The Bernini Angel Moved

In it’s own day this complicated beauty would be slated for destruction. Why?

This past week marked a milestone in the completion of a labor of love: the restoration of a Bernini Angel. When crafting bronze sculptures, Bernini would make plaster molds for the smelting process. As models for bronze pieces that framed the altar at St. Peter’s Basilica, these statues were not meant to be preserved and would generally have been burned if not, in this case, for a very famous creator. Molds like these are unique in construction, and  and therefore very difficult to care for. This angel, for example, was in some marked disrepair before the office was able to embark on its efforts to bring it safely back to display in a state or preservation.

The clay exterior hasn’t even been fired, so it is simply dried fragile dirt that makes up the piece. A hollow shell, the statue is more like paper than stone and therefore it is necessary to think of it from the perspective of a document restoration.

This piece is fascinating because it can connect directly to Bernini and how comparable artists worked in the 1600’s. It’s a map to show how they realized sculptures and how models were made. Again, because these were not meant to have a long life, there are very few left in existence. “That’s why they’re in this room of the Pinacoteca,” says restorer Flavia Callori, who runs the ceramics and metals laboratory. “They’re very important… [The Angel is] not only Bernini, but Bernini and his century, Bernini and his techniques. The most important thing is that Bernini worked on these statues, not the bronze ones that were made FROM these casts. So here you find the fingerprints of Bernini, you find his intention.”

Because of the support of our patrons – a glass laboratory workplace was constructed to address the unique needs of these pieces. Sealed in under optimum humidity conditions the Angel had to be approached carefully with great attention paid to the acidity of the materials used on the surface. A further consideration for this workspace was accessibility from the outside. By giving it a transparent walls, onlookers could see how the restoration is progressing, making it a kind of living museum piece. The head of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, is very pleased with the new workshop and hopes to use it in the future for large artworks including tapestries and paintings.

Says Ms. Callori, “We had to look in other laboratories where they have materials that are fragile, like paper. [The use of] Cellulose  is totally new. We saw it in the the laboratory of the paper restoration… and thought maybe we could use materials not normally used in clay, or metals.”

When the angel was finally restored, then began the arduous task of moving it. The hollow interior makes it vulnerable to cracking meaning that the process would be  extra labor intensive. An engineer was brought in to create a special base and then the Angel was slowly able to be moved into a new place.

And, just as the Kneeling Angel leaves the floor, another one of the same vintage, has been waiting in the wings to take its place. This next Bernini Angel will get the same loving treatment and be available to see on exhibition soon.

“We could not have done this without the New York Patrons,” said a restorer. Our thanks go out to them – with their support we are given an opportunity to salvage what otherwise would have been lost to history and at the same time to discover crucial information about Bernini and his process.

See the New York Patrons Office HERE.

Kneeling Angel in the glass laboratory workplace before it was transferred to the  Pinacoteca Gallery

Kneeling Angel in the glass laboratory workplace before it was transferred to the Pinacoteca Gallery

Head restorer of the project, Alice Baltera, with Bernini's Kneeling Angel

Head restorer of the project, Alice Baltera, with Bernini’s Kneeling Angel


The Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci,  with the Bernini Angels

The Director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci, with the Bernini Angels

The Laboratory

The Glass Laboratory

Vatican Tech to Help Restore Egyptian Artworks

Lasers always make us think of futuristic vistas – a time of self aware robots and a galaxy far far away. However, the lasers that are employed at the Vatican are used to illuminate the past – that is, to restore great works of art. These precise instruments can clear sediment more carefully than any human hand and make sure there is no residual damage to the artwork.

{More on Lasers in Art Conservation:}

Though the Vatican has used lasers in restoration for a while now, new and more modern technologies keep coming to us. The patrons have been instrumental in the acquisition of this kind of tech for use in our work. For example, this past year, the Washington D.C. Chapter secured an ArtLight II laser and it has already been put to use in our important work restoring the Scala Santa at the Chapel of San Lorenzo.

These kinds of cutting-edge systems are coveted by museums around the world and therefore, many other centers of art and culture have requested partnerships with the Vatican for the purpose of using our lasers for their own projects. For example, in mid-October, the Egyptian Museum in Turin will bring masterpieces here to be restored.

(How are they buried? Another collaboration with the Egyptian Museum regarding ancient coffin research: )


Not only does this mean beautifying these important works, but has the added benefit of allowing our patrons access to pieces from far flung places that they might not otherwise be able to visit.

Keep an eye out for more information on what will be available to see from the Egyptian Museum and the process of their restoration. Other viable partnerships with elite institutions mean more access to spectacularly restored artwork from around the world – all brought to you with the power of lasers.

Department of the Vatican Museums, the Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration of the Vatican Museums, restorer Giovanna Prestipino, wood expert Victoria Asensi Amoros, and the Musées de France (C2RMF) are  collaborated with the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum in Paris for their Vatican Coffin Research Project

Department of the Vatican Museums, the Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration of the Vatican Museums, restorer Giovanna Prestipino, wood expert Victoria Asensi Amoros, and the Musées de France (C2RMF) are collaborated with the Department of Egyptian Antiquities of the Louvre Museum in Paris for their Vatican Coffin Research Project

Stairway to Heaven: Vatican Backs Effort to Restore Holy Stairs Shrine

SCALA SANTA, ROME — As thousands of pilgrims continue to climb the venerated Holy Stairs below, eight restorers continue to climb the scaffolding above, working diligently on the sanctuary’s beautiful fresco cycles. Thanks to our generous United Kingdom, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina Patrons, the Vatican Museums’ head fresco restorer, Paolo Violini, and his team are in the process of executing this tremendous effort to save the Holy Stairs—uncovering the masterful 16th century works by painter Paul Brill, preserving the site’s history and enriching the spiritual messages of its frescos.  In a recent National Catholic Reporter article, Fr. Mark reinforces the meaning of the Holy Stairs restoration project, reflecting how “sacred art is invaluable, not just for its material beauty, but also for its power to help transform people’s lives.”

Follow the link below to read the entire article, written by Carol Glatz for the National Catholic Reporter:



The Emperor’s Tapestry

Last Friday, Patrons project manager  and restoration liaison, Romina Cometti, met with conservators, curators, and Museums directors in the Polymateric Laboratory of the Vatican’s Ethnological Museum to discuss the restoration progress of the Embroidered and Painted Silk Tapestry.  Together, they examined the Chinese imperial artifact, taking a closer look at the rich, colorful silk embroidery and gold leaf detailing that depicts the family clan of Emperor Xianfeng (Qing Dynasty).  Observing the object from this exclusive perspective, gathered around the edges of the tapestry as it lay flat upon a table in the restoration lab, brought attention to the unique details woven into its border.

Among the twisting vines of the bordering floral motif, Cometti noticed a curious detail—the figure of a bat, represented several times throughout the tapestry—and inquired about the animal’s purpose within the design.  Father Nicola Mapelli, head curator of the Ethnological collection, explained that the bat is one of the most popular auspicious symbols in Chinese culture:  the Chinese word for “bat”—“fú”— coincidentally holds the same pronunciation as the Chinese word for “good fortune” or “happiness,”  and the animal has a long tradition of being depicted in Chinese art, carrying the symbolism of good fortune as a visual application of the homophone.

Color also plays a role in this sense: bats are often depicted in red, because it is recognized in Chinese culture as the color of joy and also because the word for red bat, “hong fu,” sounds exactly like the word for “boundless good fortune.”  The photograph below shows a detail of one of the bats woven into the fabric of the Embroidered and Painted Silk Tapestry.  Beyond its red face and distinct ears, the bat’s ornate wings are curved in the shape of a ruyi scepter, another good luck emblem, and are depicted in white, which symbolizes longevity.

It is also interesting to know that “Xianfeng,” the reigning title of the Emperor who commissioned this tapestry, means “Universal Prosperity.”  One can imagine this beautiful tapestry hanging on the wall behind his throne, depicting the imperial family surrounded by these auspicious bats, conveying boundless good fortune, longevity, and universal happiness during his rule. Thanks to the generosity of the Michigan Patrons and the hard work of the Polymateric Lab, we know that the tapestry will be restored to beautiful condition and hung up once again to exhibit its rich fabric of cultural symbolism.   In the meantime, the tapestry’s inscription will be studied, and all damaged areas of its precious silk will be properly repaired. Who knows what further exciting details are yet to be uncovered!


michigan project chinese tapestry detail

Article written by Maddie Amos

Sistine Chapel in Santa Maria Maggiore Unveiled

In October 2012 the unveiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Basilica of St. Mary Major was celebrated. The restorations began in 2003 under the guidance of HE Card. Law thanks to the California Patrons of the Arts. Led by Michael Feeley and John McDonnell, the California Patrons ventured to Rome to participate in this special event. The Archpriest of the Basilica, HE Card. Abril Y Castellò Santos warmly greeted the benefactors, celebrated Mass and dined with them. Attending the event from the Governorship Palace were the President HE Card. Giuseppe Bertello and HE Mons. Giuseppe Sciacca the General Secretary. Attending, from the Vatican Museums, were Prof. Arnold Nesselrath, chief restorer Maria Putska with Dr. Marco Pratelli and the restorers of the Chapel, their Maestro Roberto Bordin, Prof. Ulderico Santamaria from the Scientific Lab, Dr. Alessandra Rodolfo, Maestro Guy Devreux, Dott. Ing. Pier Carlo Cuscianna, Dott. Ing. Enrico Sebastiani who took care of the lighting of the chapel. The Mass, coordinated by the Master of Ceremonies HE Mons. Adriano Paccanelli with the acolytes of the Legionaries of Christ, was presided by HE Card. Santos and Fr. Mark Haydu, LC accompanied by the outstanding music of the Liberiana Choir. After Mass, the patrons and guests enjoyed cocktails on the Logge of the Basilica and then dined in the Sala Papale. Like a large family, the patrons shared wonderful memories together that will never be forgotten.

A heartfelt thanks to all the patrons who participated in this event, together with the Patrons Office and the Museums. A commemorative plaque with the names of the donors has been placed in the Sistine Chapel as evidence of their great generosity.

California Patrons Visit Sculptor Studio

In June 2012  Some 40 California Patrons visited wholesale nfl jerseys sculptor Galea Christopher Slatoff’s studio where he explained his Rosa artistic method, the mechanics of creating a bronze sculpture, and then conducted the pouring of a bronze statue for cheap nba jerseys us.  A wonderful cheap nba jerseys wine and cheese reception followed Plants the Corner event while cheap jerseys the Patrons admired the wholesale nfl jerseys many beautiful pieces Chris had on depositos display.

In September 11, the California ***** Patrons enjoyed a tour of the Crystal Cathedral, which the at Diocese of Orange has obtained as the new Catholic Cathedral to Urban be called Christ Cathedral.

Unveiling of the Galea Fountain

In September 2011 the United Kingdom Patrons came to Rome for the unveiling of love the Galea Fountain. Located just outside of the Vatican Museum walls next to the Bramante Staircase, Patrons, Museum curators and guests listened to words from then President of the Vatican City State, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, Museums Director, Prof. Antonio Paolucci, Fr. Mark Haydu dicembre and Michael Hintze, UK Chapter President, about this remarkable fount.

This gorgeous XVII century fountain is located in cheap nba jerseys one of the most beautiful and important places in the Vatican Gardens: to the left hand side of the Bramante Staircase, the original entrance into the Vatican Museums. The fountain was created as a replica of a Galleon of the Papal Fleet by famed architect Hans Van Zanten (Giovanni Vasanzio), who was The also nominated by the Holy Father in 1613 “the architect of Our Lord,” built the Galea in the same spot where an ancient fishing-fountain of Pope Julius III was located. Vasanzio used the rocks previously placed at the bottom of the fountain to form a landscape of small wholesale mlb jerseys mountains and cliffs.

The most Excavation fascinating element of the fountain is the splendid galleon in cheap mlb jerseys the middle of the basin. This amazingly detailed sea vessel is meticulously the decorated with all of the characteristics of the real ship: a beautiful small captain’s tower, sails, thirty cannons, multiple ladders, Elia flags, and a beautiful mermaid on the bow. A complicated system of tubes within the galleon enables the cannons, masks, and towers to spout water. The meaning of wholesale nba jerseys the fountain is made clear by the inscription left by Cardinal Maffeo Barberini (later Pope Urban VIII 1625-1644), which reads: “The warship of the Pontiffs does not spout flames, but sweet water which the fire of battle tames.”

The event continued with the unveiling of the commemorative plaque inscribed in Latin, thanking the patrons and the ceremonious “accendere” of the fountain. The Patrons and Vatican Museum Staff concluded with a champagne toast at the site overlooking Rome followed by lunch for the Patrons atop cheap mlb jerseys the Etruscan Terrace.

The Vatican Museums and Patrons Office would like to congratulate and thank the United Kingdom Chapter for sponsoring the restoration of this special project.