The generosity of the International Chapter has made possible the restoration of four magnificent plaster casts by the multitalented artist Pietro Melandri. Most famous for his work with ceramics, Melandri was tapped by Pope Pius XI in the early 1930s to aid architects Giuseppe Momo and Gio Ponti in the design of a new entrance to the Vatican Museums. The creation of the independent Vatican State on the 11th of February, 1929 necessitated a new entrance to the museum that would provide access to the space, while separating it physically from Italian territory. Essential to the planning stages of this grand entrance, these four plaster casts document the progression in architectural style from a simple, rusticated portal to a grander and more elaborate architectural statement.
The restoration of these historically significant plaster models carried out by Restorer Marta Giommi was quite complex. Due to poor storage conditions, the casts showed significant structural and cosmetic damage. They had sustained deep scratches and their surfaces were stained by rust, water, and dirt. Plaster is an incredibly porous material that readily absorbs dust and dirt particles. After a careful cleaning with a microfiber brush, the surfaces of the casts remained greyish. In order to preserve the water-soluble material from which the cast is constructed, the restoration team applied warm agar in order to carefully extract particles trapped within the pores of the material. This carefully constructed material removed the dirt from the pieces just as a facemask removes dirt from a human face, leaving these plaster designs white once more. After significant structural reparations, these magnificent glimpses into the design of an important feature of the Vatican Museums are once more ready for view. We are grateful to the International Patrons for their generous contribution that made this restoration possible! We look forward to seeing all of you at the International Patrons event on July 13.
A two day conference marking the 20thanniversary of the restoration of Michelangelo’s frescos in the Sistine Chapel opened on Thursday October 30th in Rome.
With the new lights and proposed new air conditioning system, the Sistine Chapel is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Now 450 years after the death of Michelangelo and 20 after the conclusion of the famous restoration in 1994, the Vatican Museums honor this double anniversary with a symposium.
The long-awaited event, will consist of two days of intense work and studies of the health of Michelangelo’s frescoes and their future conservation. Registration for the conference is closed – but surely we will learn a great deal from the symposium to share with our Patrons.
The conference began at 10 AM when his Eminence Cardinal Bertello greeted all participants. This was followed by a talk led by Vatican Museums Director Antonio Paolucci.
Friend of the Patrons, Dr. Arnold Nesselrath, Managing Director for the Science Departments and the Laboratories of the Vatican Museums will also present on “The Reason to Restore” and “How do we Illuminate Michelangelo?: The Philosophy of the Project.”
We’re excited about the coming together of all these innovative minds in the world of restoration as well as the focus on the Sistine Chapel. More images and insights to come… Check out this link to the Vatican Museums website for more information.
Conference on Sistine Chapel Lighting
Check out work from our Texas Chapter!
Gardens blossom in our artistic projects too: one prominent restoration project centers on 11 sumptuous Chinese scrolls depicting flowers in bloom. These beautiful pieces are by Yun Shouping – also known as Nantian (1633 – 1690). He was one of the “Six Masters” of the Qing period and adorned his poetic scrolls with brilliant and intricate flower patterns. The Vatican Museum is dedicated to restoring these unique delicate scrolls so they can be displayed and kept safe from the elements. This restoration was generously sponsored by Robert F. Smith. Learn more here:http://texasvaticanpatrons.org/portfolio-items/eleven-chinese-scrolls-by-yun-shouping/
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The Scala Santa are known to be the same steps that Jesus took to reach Pontius Pilate during his passion. Then, in the fourth century, it is reputed that the stairs were brought to Rome by St. Helena (the mother of Constantine). Since that time, pilgrims have visited the steps and climbed them on their knees. This obviously means a great deal of wear on these stone relics. Today they are protected by a casing of wood – but even so, recently, Mary Angela Schroth of the PAVM noted the wear and tear that the over 2 million penitents per year put on the stairwell and the surrounding chapel of San Lorenzo. In response, the Vatican Museums are coordinating a 10 year restoration project. As a part of this effort, the DC Chapter of the Vatican patrons recently invested in a laser that can clean stone, stucco, paintings, metal, and wood without damaging the precious artwork.
This labor of spiritual renewal, through a re reexamination of the relics of Christian history, is part of a pattern in current Church philosophy. “It’s an essential part of this new reform that’s going on right now in the church,” says Ms. Schroth in interview with EWTN News. Because the Holy Father has been an avid patron of the arts, it has meant renewed interest across the Catholic world. Pope Francis even attended an arts event this past October that raised awareness of the Patrons Office and our important restoration work.
With further Papal support, Schroth hopes the holy stairs inside the San Lorenzo Chapel will find the support they need to continue to “raise the faithful to a higher level” (no pun intended). Ms. Schroth is a keen advocate of how the arts are directly related to faith and eloquently pleaded her case in this interview.
Pope Francis October 2013,(photo provided by Vatican News), poses with the Patrons of the Arts of the Vatican Museum, a fundraising organization for restoring the Vatican’s artistic treasures, on the occasion of their audience, at the Clementine Hall.
Mary Angela Schroth
La Scala Santa
DC Chapter Leader, CEM Martin