Vatican Treasures

Vatican Treasures is in its last few weeks at the Minnesota History Center, and I visited yesterday with a friend. No pictures were allowed in the exhibit, sorry.

Art and artifacts were from the Vatican’s collection, and a few pieces were labeled as being their first public viewing. I believe the oldest art might have been a mosaic from the first St. Peter’s Basilica, and we found it very interesting; the pieces of tile were different depths, not the smooth mortared look that I think of as a mosaic. Paintings were of varying ages and styles, and it was interesting how the same subjects — the Holy Family, Apostles, etc — were treated by different painters and periods, from the very chubby baby Jesus, to the slender baby Jesus who looks like a small adult.

Visitors walked through a room that was designed to look like you were walking through the scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel, as if Michelangelo had just stepped out. Sketches, pigments, were on display.

Included was history of St. Peter’s as well, from drawings of Nero’s Circus, to the first and second Basilicas and their construction. There was a cast of the writing that identified “Peter is here,” where bones were found about 40 years ago. In the process of excavations and repairs, things like old oil lamps and playing cards were found, and were on display.

Some of the history of the papacy was there, showing documents and the regalia of the pope: chasubles, albs, stoles, miters, chalices, copes, and even a ring. I believe there were two crowns there, which were used before the miters. They were three-tiered, gold, and encrusted with gems, which unfortunately were labeled as “diamonds and gemstones.” I would have liked to know which gemstones. The fabric and embroidery was astounding. One chasuble in particular had postage-stamp sized illustrations of various saints — and that was just the edging. There was the box of chemicals used to color the smoke white, used in showing the election of Benedict. There was a reliquary with pieces of the bones of several saints, including Saint Peter.

The closing item in the exhibit was a bronze cast of the hand of Pope John Paul II. Visitors were encouraged to touch it.

Some images and additional information is available online at the Vatican Splendor’s website.

So that there are some pictures of my visit to the Minnesota History Center, I took a few of beadwork in another gallery:

Mid-19th century woodlands bandolier, probably Ojibwe

1869 Santee Dakota moccasins

1900 Dakota moccasins

1870-1890 Dakota blanket strip detail

It was a great visit. In an interesting bit of synchronicity, I read yesterday that the Dead Sea Scrolls are coming to the Science Museum of Minnesota in 2010.

Now, back to Christmas present beading!

2 thoughts on “Vatican Treasures”

  1. Did you go to the Smithsonian Am Indian Museum in NYC? I went there twice w/Marya, it’s another beady museum drooling location. LOVE those old French and Italian colors. The British Museum would be fabulous to see, it’s on my someday list. The Surface Design Assn has a show here now, I want to see it before it leaves mid-Jan.

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