Vatican Art Exhibit showcases in Cleveland
CLEVELAND, April 10, 2008: One of the largest collections of art, documents and historically significant objects from the Vatican ever to tour North America is coming to the Western Reserve Historical Society in Cleveland beginning May 31, 2008, for a limited, exclusive regional engagement.
Vatican Splendors from Saint Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Swiss Guard will present unique objects illustrating the Vatican's impact on history and culture through 2,000 years. The timing of the exhibition commemorates the 500th anniversary of Saint Peter's Basilica, the founding of the Vatican Museums, Michelangelo's painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the establishment of the Papal Swiss Guard.
“Vatican Splendors is visiting only three U.S. cities, so we feel very fortunate to have it come here to Cleveland," said Dr. Gainor Davis, president of the Western Reserve Historical Society. "Since such a large percentage of Northeastern Ohio's population has Catholic roots, the Society felt that this exhibition meshed perfectly with its ongoing mission to educate our residents about the origins of their history, culture and traditions. People will be able to see some of the world's greatest treasures without having to travel to the Vatican."
Approximately 200 rare objects will be presented in contextual environments, such as the recreated tomb of Saint Peter. Items in the collection – which includes tiaras; mosaics; paintings; works by well-known sculptors; papal rings and jewels; intricately embroidered silk vestments; precious objects from the Papal Mass; armor, swords and vestments of the Papal Swiss Guard; and gifts to the popes from notables such as Napoleon and the Dalai Lama – are on loan from the Vatican Museums, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the Reverenda Fabbrica of Saint Peter, the Apostolic Floreria, private collections and the Papal Swiss Guard.
The exhibition features actual objects relating to the election of Pope Benedict XVI, such as election ballots, patens and urns used in voting, a ceremonial vestment and an actual white smoke cartridge announcing the election.
"Indeed, this exhibition is in itself significant, as it represents one of the largest collections of art and objects from the Vatican ever to tour North America," stated Monsignor Roberto Zagnoli, curator of the Vatican Museums. "Many of these works have never before been outside Vatican City."
After the three-city tour of St. Petersburg, Fla., Cleveland and St. Paul, Minn., the items featured in Vatican Splendors will return to Rome where they cannot be absent for more than a year.
"It is a great privilege for Cleveland to host this wonderful collection," said the Most Rev. Richard G. Lennon, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all – not just Catholics – to see these awe-inspiring treasures and significant pieces of art and beauty here in Northeast Ohio."
Highlights of the exhibition include a reliquary containing fragments of bones of Saint Peter and a gold Votive Plaque found in the area of the tomb, all displayed within a dramatic reproduction of the Tomb of Saint Peter; the Mandylion of Edessa, a third to fifth century image on linen considered one of the oldest known representations of Jesus present in Rome; a mosaic Bust of an Angel by the 14th century master, Giotto; personal items and tools of Michelangelo; an exquisite terra-cotta sculpture by Bernini; the Papal Tiara of Pope Pius VII, the symbol of the papacy, made of gold, precious stones, pearls, velvet and silk, and topped with an exquisite emerald; a Buddhist Thanka of embroidered cloth and pearls, given by the Dalai Lama to John Paul II; the Pastoral Staff of Pope John Paul II; and a special presentation of uniforms, armor and weapons from the legendary Papal Swiss Guard.
"This exhibition is about art, history, culture and the Church's legacy over the last 2,000 years," said Mark Greenberg, president of Evergreen Exhibitions, producers of the exhibition. "The Vatican has had a profound impact on culture through the centuries by commissioning, collecting and preserving historical objects and art. Vatican Splendors is a moving tribute to an exquisite assemblage of art and objects associated with the papacy and the historic institution of the Vatican."
Greenberg added that the exhibition is not solely about religion, but rather a collection of fine and decorative arts that explores the Vatican's influence on world history.
Tickets for Vatican Splendors from Saint Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums and the Swiss Guard go on sale April 14 and will be available by calling 1-888-5VATICAN (1-888-582-8422) or online at Ticketmaster.com. Tickets also may be purchased at the Western Reserve Historical Society box office located at 10825 East Blvd. in Cleveland. Tickets are $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $14 for children (age 6-12). Hours for Vatican Splendors will be Monday through Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information regarding group sales and special packages, contact Tickets for Groups at 1-800-840-1157 or visit www.ticketsforgroups.com.
Vatican Splendors is made possible by the generosity of its sponsor, the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums of Ohio, Inc. More information about Vatican Splendors is available at www.vaticansplendors.com. For information about the Western Reserve Historical Society, visit www.wrhs.org.