After just one month since becoming director of the Vatican Museums, Antonio Paolucci said one of the challenges he has taken up is that of showing that the museums are “much more than the Sistine Chapel.”
In an interview published by L’Osservatore Romano on Sunday, Paolucci said one of his greatest concerns is that most people only visit the Sistine Chapel and ignore other great works of art. He revealed that the Vatican is seriously considering the possibility of opening a new entrance to facilitate the flow of tourists and museum visitors.
“This is undoubtedly something I should do,” he said, “but it is still premature to say how and where” the new entrance would be built.”
However, he continued, “one of the things I must improve and which personally irritates me,” is the way the public ignores the treasure of the works of art housed at the Vatican Museums.
“What I mean is that to the museum’s public, only Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel exists. I have sadly discovered that most, more than two-thirds of the people that come to the museum, ignore even Rafael,” he noted.
“Do we understand this? Rafael, the greatest artist of the last millennium, to me even greater than Michelangelo, is no longer seen by many people,” Paolucci added. Thus, he lamented, “Michelangelo has become a fatal attraction that overshadows the rest.”
He admitted that in order to see everything at the Vatican Museums “you would need more than a month, but I would like people to perceive the plurality of this ‘organization of museums’ when they enter.”
“The most fascinating thing about the Vatican Museums is that they are a speculum mundi (a mirror of the world). No civilization in history has done this, and the Vatican Museums are here to help understand it,” Paolucci said.