Renewal of the depositories for the Ethnological Museum

Coming Soon

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The Ethnological Museum is one of the most significant departments of the Vatican Museums, and, thanks to a set of collections from all corners of the globe, can be considered a true ‘representation of the world’ through works of art. This artistic capital consists of over 100,000 items, sent from all continents over the centuries by the missions or as simple gifts to the popes to testify to the friendship of distant peoples, with their own cultures and religious customs. This is a continuing manifestation of homage to the Holy See. Presently 500 or so works are on display to the public, while the majority of its assets are preserved in the Museum’s deposits. These artifacts consist of materials of extremely varied nature, in large part perishable, which require stringent standards for proper storage. There has long been a plan for a major restructuring and reorganization of the depositary spaces to meet the most current criteria for conservation and to extend the museum, including a minimum part of its rich heritage contained in places of custody and not presently visible. This will permit viewing by specialists, scholars or the interested public and open the possibility to substantially increase the number of works on display and permit, for an involved and motivated public, access to some of the most important storage deposits of the Vatican Museums. The first phase of the project has led to the storage of about 11,000 works, using the same standards of protection adopted to date, with the constant use of highly qualified personnel specialized in conservation. A task particularly difficult since the artifacts are made of technically mixed materials and, in some cases, easily perishable. Once the modifications are completed, a specific design plan will define a more appropriate and functional use of the area, with the creation of special courses for the public and the implementation of workstations for scholars. This plan will provide an adequate response to the need to ensure high safety standards and the continued conservation of the artifacts. How many times have we wanted to see a work that we know to be preserved in a museum and we could not view it because it was not exhibited to the public? This project, therefore, is proof of its paramount importance to the Vatican Museums: this is because it will substantially expand what is considered to be one of the greatest ethnological collections in the world and will offer visitors, from every part of the planet, the possibility to see invaluable treasures that have long remained hidden or reserved exclusively for specialists.