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The Vatican Library Debuts First-Ever Permanent Contemporary Art Gallery
By Alexa Heah, 08 Nov 2021
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Image ID 56151915 © via Lev Tsimbler | Dreamstime.com
Last week, a new art gallery in the Vatican Apostolic Library, which was typically only accessible to scholars, was inaugurated by Pope Francis and finally opened to the public.
The library’s first-ever public exhibition space, which was funded by the estate of American philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian and organized by the Sanctuary of Culture Foundation, aims to “support the culture of encounter,” as per librarian Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça.
Its first display, titled Everyone: Humanity On Its Way, features the works of Italian artist Pietro Ruffo, who was inspired by the most recent papal encyclical. According to Artnet News, an encyclical is an open letter written by the Pope to the Catholic clergy, expressing his views on a particular matter within religious doctrine. The latest copy, published last October, shared the Pope’s thoughts on brotherhood and “social friendship.”
Ruffo contemplated on themes of migration and travel, “underlining the difficulties and the beauty of the encounter between people of different origins,” the Vatican said.
Alongside Ruffo’s art pieces, on exhibition are also manuscripts and geographical drawings from the library’s archives, including a 20-foot-long 17th-century map of the river Nile.
The mix of new and old works is the Vatican’s way of setting up a space where there’s “history meeting the present.”
“The encounter with the immense patrimony of the Vatican Apostolic Library was for me a journey into knowledge, geography, and the history of humanity,” Ruffo told the Catholic News Agency.
“The dialogue between my research and the terrestrial and celestial maps of different eras and cultures outlines a humanity that is increasingly interconnected and responsible for the fragile relationship with its ecosystem,” he explained.
[via Artnet News and Catholic News Agency, cover image via Lev Tsimbler | Dreamstime.com]
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