VATICAN (AP) – The Vatican’s Apostolic Library, which houses ancient manuscripts, rare books and reading rooms for scholars, opens its doors to the general public with a small new exhibition space designed to combine its artistic treasures with contemporary art.
The first exhibition, Tutti (All) draws inspiration from Pope Francis’ 2020 encyclical, All Brothers, which combines his calls for environmental sustainability, greater human brotherhood and a fairer socio-economic order in the post-COVID world.
Roman artist Pietro Ruffo, for whom maps and migration are common themes, was invited to create a special exhibition in one of the library’s rooms, which he transformed into a rainforest. In another room, Ruffo designed a modern version of one of the library’s old maps of the Nile, where two maps go side by side in a glass case.
Opening the new space last week, Francis said the world needs new maps after COVID-19.
“In this landmark change brought about by the accelerating pandemic, humanity needs new maps to unlock the meaning of brotherhood, friendship and common good,” he said. “We need a new beauty that is not just a reflection of the strength of some, but a bold mosaic of everyone’s diversity.”
The initiative, funded by the estate of American philanthropist Kirk Kerkorian, follows Francis’ call at the beginning of his pontificate for the Library to open up to the outside world. Francis followed this line by opening to the public the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo as a museum.
The exhibition, which runs until February 22nd, is open on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons and provides visitors with a unique way to enter the Vatican that would otherwise be closed. Visitors must request entry in advance online and the € 15 entry fee includes a catalog.
The Apostolic Library is separate from the Vatican Secret Archives, recently renamed the Vatican Apostolic Archives, where all the records of the Holy See and its embassies are kept. Both are open to scientists upon request.