St Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of Popes

An exhibition representing the largest collection of objects from the Vatican ever to tour North America is currently on display in Cincinatti, Ohio. Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes presents unique objects illustrating the Vatican's impact on history and culture through 2,000 years since the time of Saint Peter. Many of these objects have never left the Vatican or been on public view. They are on loan from the Vatican, including the Vatican Museums, the archives of Propaganda Fide, the Pontifical Sacristy and objects formerly from the Sistine Chapel, churches administered by the Vatican, and Casa Buonarotti.

The 18-month tour had its world premiere March 2, 2003 at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. The exhibition occupies approximately 15,000 square feet and when complete will tour four venues, presented for approximately 4 months in each location. The museums that will host Saint Peter and the Vatican: The Legacy of the Popes include the Houston Museum of Natural Science, the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the San Diego Museum of Art. Preparations to bring this ground-breaking exhibition to the United States began in 1997.

Highlights of the exhibition include a reproduction of the tomb of Saint Peter and a gold votive plaque found in the area of the tomb; the Mandylion of Edessa, a third-fifth century image on linen considered the oldest known representation of Jesus; a mosaic Bust of an Angel by the 14th-century master, Giotto; drawings by Michelangelo, including figure studies for the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel; Bernini's exquisite terra-cotta sculpture, Charity with Four Putti, which has been discovered to include the artist's thumbprint in the clay; the Tiara of Pope Pius IX, the symbol of the papacy, made of silver, gold, pearls, diamonds, emeralds, and other precious stones; a Buddhist Thanka of embroidered cloth and pearls, created by the Dalai Lama as a gift to John Paul II; and the pastoral staffs of Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II.

“Our goal in designing the exhibit was to tell the story of the Vatican using these timeless works of art. This historical exhibition makes this subject and the objects approachable, personal and very meaningful,” says Mark P. Mays, President and Chief Operating Officer, Clear Channel Communications, Inc. “Anyone who visits the exhibit will be moved by the intrinsic, artistic and symbolic value of this collection, the timeless treasures and the chance to experience them is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Clear Channel is very proud to bring this exhibition to our communities.”

“Indeed, this exhibition is in itself significant, as it represents the largest collection of art and objects from the Vatican to tour North America,” states Father Allen Duston, O.P., International Director of Patrons of the Arts, Vatican Museums. “Many of these works have never before been outside Vatican City.”

The exhibition is organized and circulated by Arts Services International, Alexandria, Virginia, in conjunction with the Governatorato of the Vatican City State and the Office of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. The institutions within the Vatican City State involved in the exhibition are the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff, the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Reverenda Fabbrica of St. Peter, the Vatican Museums, and the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

The exhibition is produced by Clear Channel Exhibitions (CCE) in association with Trident Media Group. CCE is a world leader in providing high quality, state-of-the-art educational family experiences and produces exhibits in collaboration with more than 200 leading museums and research institutions.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full color catalogue published by ASI. ASI is a non-profit traveling exhibitions institution, which organizes fine art exhibitions of the highest quality. The 500-page volume will contain the contributions of numerous international scholars and will document all loans to the exhibition. A Spanish language supplement will be included with each catalogue.

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