THE SOUND OF ART

The Office of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums was pleased to host a group of patients from the Bambino Gesù Hospital, a children’s hospital located in Rome under the administration of the Holy See. Our guests, ranging in ages from 3 to 10, gathered in the Vatican Museums with their siblings and parents for a day of summer camp fun. The Vatican in collaboration with the hospital aimed to provide a day of reprieve for these children who suffered from some form of disability, particularly regarding visual impairments. The children were able to participate in activities that largely incorporated sensory stimulation. They gathered leaves and sticks in the Vatican Gardens, physically interacted with statues and busts in the Museo Gregoriano Profano, and even took a “magic carpet” ride—a mechanism that radiated vibrations from music so those hearing-impaired guests could dance along. Our interns had the opportunity to observe as the children played with sound effects of a dinner party. The children erupted into giggles and clapping as the sounds mimicked a kiss, a breaking plate, and even a burp! Soon after, it was revealed the relevance of the sounds was in connection to the floor mosaic below their very feet, the “Asàrotos òikos” mosaic that is scattered with images of a dirty floor left over in an ancient banquet hall. Through the cohesion of various sensory activities (sight, touch, and sound) that are integral to the experience of artifacts in the Vatican Museums, we hope that the children were able to gain an appreciation for that which is housed within our walls.

Project sponsored by the Italian and International Chapter of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, Robyn & Kingsley Mundey and organized by Doctor Isabella Salandri – Public Relations Officer of the Vatican Museums.

 

 

CELEBRATING 25 YEARS OF DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS WITH VATICAN’S TREASURES IN MEXICO TO

June 20th to October 28th, 2018

Vatican City State

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Mexico, San Ildefonso College of Mexico City(l’Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso) will host the exhibit, “Vatican: from Saint Peter to Francis. Two Thousand Years of Art and History” (“Vaticano: de San Pedro a Francisco. Dos mil años de arte e historia”), from June 20th to October 28th, 2018.  The exposition is organized by the Vatican Museums (Musei Vaticani) in collaboration with the Factory of Saint Peter (Fabbrica di San Pietro), the Vatican Apostolic Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) and the Pontifical Sacristy(Sacrestia Pontificia). More than 180 works from the Vatican Collections will be shown in the Mexican capital- of these, 30 masterpieces from the Pope’s paintings gallery (Pinacoteca del Papa) by artists including Titian, Raphael, Veronese, Bernini, Guido Reni, Melozzo da Forlì, and Barocci. The public will have the opportunity to retrace the origins and traditions of the Roman Church through these artistic creations that testify to the enduring faith and devotion of the last 2000 years of history.

The triple Pontifical Tiara of Pope Leo XIII and the Lateran Custody from the Basilica of St. John Lateran’s treasury are also among the “treasures” that will arrive in the ancient lands of the Aztecs.

The exhibition is co-curated by Adele Breda, Pietro Zander, Sandro Barbagallo and Alessanndra Rodolfo.

FRAGMENT OF A SARCOPHAGUS

Miracles happen every day. 

Each of the seven days of creation bears within it a multiplicity of miracles. At the center of it all, lies the remarkably complex creation of man himself—the receiver of God’s affectionate love and His most amazing miracle to boot. Though the relationship was sacrificed by the disobedience of Adam and Eve, God continues to unceasingly draw every man to Himself, and the promise of His Covenant with His people can never be severed. God’s covenantal love, or sacred family bond, is inherent within each biblical family.  God reveals to Noah that the covenant reaches beyond the family nucleus and “ is with [Noah] and with all his descendants after” (Genesis 9:9). Though others would not find favor with God and be swept away in the massive flood, Noah’s family mission is steadfast in guarding and communicating love. The beginning of this perpetual covenantal story (which still, of course, continues today) is documented not only in the Bible, but makes its way into various early Christian artworks.  Interest in the figurative and visual arts of early Christianity reached its height in the 16th century, during the Catholic response to the Reformation.Knowledge of early Church and her works became key.

In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV (1740-1758) successfully organized a “Christian Museum” in the Vatican, housing those works that give us a glimpse in to the culture and faith of the the first Christian communities in Rome. Established in 1852 under the papacy of Pius IX (1846-1870), the Commission for Sacred Archaeology insured the utmost protection for these rich archaeological pieces of Christian heritage. Two years later, in an effort to save precious pieces that were unearthed, Pius IX transferred the artifacts to the Lateran Palace in a collection he called “Pius.”  In 1963 the collection of Christian patrimony was moved to the Vatican, and became permanent residents of the “Pius Christian Museum.”  Every visitor upon entering the Museums can turn a corner and listen to the testimonies of Christian families and martyrs from the 2nd to 4th centuries, etched in the stone sarcophagi in this collection. This frontal sarcophagus piece is one of many that bears witness to the precious Christian artifacts, as the precious covenantal bond of God with His people is carved into them.  Here, Noah is seen sending out a dove to determine if, after forty days in the ark, the flood waters had subsided. The dove touches the head of another figure, perhaps one of Noah’s sons, who carries a bastion that leads the eye into the next scene.  Three youths, refusing to worship false deities, sing the praises of the one true God after thrown in the fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar.  Lifting up their hands in prayer, they sing of their transgressions and the miracle of still being showered in God’s mercy.  They are unconsumed by the flames.  Noah’s family is spared from the flood. One miracle flows directly into another. 

The images decorate the tombs of the faithful who bore witness to the miracles of God in their own lives and next miracle? It is how the Vatican restorers brought this piece of heritage and faith back to life. The sarcophagus is a relief sculpture piece that had undergone maintenance, restorations and perhaps reworked interventions over time. During the preliminary “autopsy” of the work, certain findings helped determine the present state of intervention and “readability” of the piece. There was evidence of coherent deposits and stains, either from exposure to less than desirable conditions, or from the hand of a previous attempt at fixing the piece. Wax or paints were used to cover damages, and these exhibited deposits resultantly compromised the integrity of the carved surface. Generally the surfaces of sarcophagi often show widespread scratches and exfoliation phenomena. In the case of areas where dirt and deposits are more heavily encrusted, thus hindering the piece’s aesthetic integrity, the restorers have to remove these deposits using diversified laser technology.  Oftentimes, Japanese rice paper will be affixed to the surface with a paste made from natural ingredients, which serves to stabilize the rest of the work while the area that is being tackled undergoes some “bumps and bruises” during the restoration process. 

An indispensable part of the procedure involved cleaning the stone surfaces while maintaining scrupulous attention to individual elements and adherence to the pre-restoration analysis performed with the help of the Diagnostic Survey Laboratory.  Great care was always taken in preserving and analyzing traces of polychrome and coatings, and special uses of material such as agar allowed for controlled, careful cleaning. At first glance, one sees a piece of stone.  A second look allows one to read through the miracles of the Bible on its surface. In these scenes is the promise of God’s never-ending, miraculous love for all His people. And the generosity of some of these people ensures that millions more can appreciate this piece of stone. Miracles do happen every day… especially when you are one of them. 

Spend a Sunday at the Villas of Castel Gandolfo!

April – October 2018

From April to October, with the exception of the months of July and August, the Pontifical Villas of Castel Gandolfo will welcome visitors also on a Sunday. With the arrival of the warmer season, the special Sunday opening (from 10.00 a.m. to 15.00 p.m. with last entry at 14.00 p.m.) offers a unique opportunity to organize an out of town trip with all the family, and to be immersed in artistic treasures, beautiful landscapes and the food and wine of the Castelli Romani.