A new look into the Vatican's stunning museums

  Staircase at the Vatican Museums on Nov. 12, 2015. Credit: Gianluca Gangemi/CNA.
Staircase at the Vatican Museums on Nov. 12, 2015. Credit: Gianluca Gangemi/CNA.

.- Those who haven't made it to the world famous Vatican Museums needn't worry – the Church’s treasures will now come to them through a new DVD series aimed at sharing the small country’s rich patrimony with the world.

“The idea was to do a series of six DVDs that can help those who have seen the Museums as well as those who will never go to understand the patrimony that we have,” Msgr. Dario Edoardo Vigano told CNA.

Msgr. Vigano is the current head of the Vatican Television Center, and earlier this year was named prefect of the Vatican’s new Communications department, which is still under structural development.

An initiative of CTV, the series is titled “Discovering the Vatican Museums,” and is guided by Italian paleontologist Alberto Angela.  

Other agencies also collaborated in the project, including Italy’s national public broadcasting company Rai Com and the Editorial Team of the Italian magazine L'Espresso.

The new series on the Vatican Museums follows a similar project done with the same team last year, titled “Discovering the Vatican.”

While last year's series covered everything in the Vatican from St. Peter’s Basilica to the Vatican Gardens and the Vatican’s Post Office, the new series covers the museums exclusively.

DVDs for the new series will go on sale one at a time each week, beginning Saturday, Nov. 14, at the individual price of 9.90 euros. They are divided according to the different artistic periods represented in the museums, each covering everything from the Renaissance to contemporary art.

With the arrangement set up like this, anyone who purchases the set “can decide to do six visits to the Museums, preparing themselves six times,” Msgr. Vigano said.

He said the new series offers viewers a unique journey “through the extraordinary treasures of the Vatican Museums,” which then become a way to understand their value. The works, he said, are able to move people with their beauty, “which reveals exactly the experience of God.”

The filming team also had the opportunity to visit the museums at night, giving viewers an after-hours look at the Vatican’s vast collection of art and artifacts.

Special features can be activated in the DVDs, such as images filmed with wide-angle lenses, as well as the option for viewers to see the museums from their point of view as a man or woman walking through.

“This gives a very important, very beautiful impact,” Msgr. Vigano said, adding that some parts were done with “interesting optics” and small details “that enrich the narration.”

“I think it will be a very educative series…it brings to humanity the fact of understanding how art is an expressive form of humanity to recount the deepest happenings of the human heart and of the experience of God.”

Alberto Angela, the host of the new series, told CNA that the Vatican Museums “aren’t just a collection of beautiful works,” but are a fundamental means of understanding humanity’s sense of beauty over the previous 100 generations.

“There were the artistic protagonists, but also lesser people who in the past 250-300 years sought to give their testimony on what was beauty was, what makes you dream. It could be Michelangelo’s Pieta, it could be the face of the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel.”

He said that Italians are fortunate to be born and raised in a culture that is surrounded by the past.

The Vatican Museums are unique in this sense because they don’t fall into “the cliché of the gladiator in the colosseum” or the ruins of Pompeii, but rather help visitors to see “the daily life of 2,000 years ago.”

And this, Angela said, “makes you realize that your way of thinking arrived directly from them.”

Tags: Art, Vatican Museums