Friday, October 18, 2019

Inaugurating a new section of the Vatican Museums

At 4:00pm local time today (10:00am EDT), the Holy Father, Pope Francis inaugurated and visited the first section of the new layout of the Ethnological Museum, part of the Vatican Museums.

This section of the Museums, which gathers together artistic and cultural testimonials of non-European peoples, collected by Pope Pius XI in 1925, with collections dating back to previous eras, begins a new phase of history with the evocative name: the Vatican Ethnological Museum Anima Mundi.

To demonstrate closeness and participation in the important work of the Synod, today's event coincided with the presentation of an exposition dedicated to the Amazon entitled Mater Amazonia - The deep breath of the world, which has been set up in the first renovated space within the Vatican Ethnological Museum Anima Mundi, which is dedicated to Australia and Oceania.  Today's inauguration took place in the presence of the Synod Fathers.

Following a few brief words of greeting offered by Cardinal Giusepe Bertello, President of the Governatorato of the Vatican City State, the Pope shared his speech.

Speech of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
for the inauguration of the 
Vatican Ethnological Museum

Dear friends,

I cordially greet all of you and I thank Cardinal Bertello for his words.

I like to think that what we are inaugurating today is not simply a museum, in the traditional sense of the word. In fact, I found the name chosen for this collection to be appropriate, so evocative: Anima mundi. The soul of the world.

I think the Vatican Museums are increasingly called to become a living home, inhabited yet open to everyone, with the doors wide open to the peoples of the whole world. Vatican Museums open to all, without closure. A place where everyone can feel represented; where everyone can perceive concretely that the Church's gaze excludes no one.

Whoever enters here should feel that in this house there is also room for him, for his people, for his tradition, for his culture: the European cultures as well as the Indian culture, the Chinese culture as well as the native culture of the Amazon or the Congolese forest, of Alaska or the Australian deserts or the Pacific islands. All peoples are here, in the shadow of the dome of Saint Peter, close to the heart of the Church and the heart of the Pope. And this is because art is not an uprooted thing: art is born from the heart of peoples. It is a message: from the hearts of peoples to the hearts of peoples.

Here, guests should also feel that their art has the same value and is cared for and preserved with the same passion that is reserved for Renaissance masterpieces or the immortal Greek and Roman sculptures, which attract millions of people every year. Here you will find a special space: the space of dialogue, of opening to the other, of meeting.

I can appreciate that setting up this exhibit, for which I thank all those who have worked on it - curators, architects, engineers and workers, all of you! -, for your continual transparency. Transparency is an important value, especially in an ecclesial institution. We always need it! In the coming years, thousands of works from all over the world will be displayed in these windows, and this type of installation intends to put them almost in dialogue with each other. And since works of art are expressions of the spirit of peoples, the message we receive is that we must always look at other cultures, at other people, with openness of mind and with good will.

Beauty unites us. It invites us to live human brotherhood, opposing the culture of resentment, racism and nationalism, which is always lurking. These are selective cultures, cultures of closed mentalities.

A few months ago, some Chinese art work was sent from this museum to Beijing. And before that, others had been sent on loan to some Islamic countries ... Many good initiatives can be done thanks to art, managing to overcome even great barriers and distances.

Today I would like to thank those who take care of these precious works every day: the Curator of the Anima Mundi Museum, Father Nicola Mapelli, who is a PIME missionary - and this is very consistent! -; the restorers of the Polymateric Laboratory, and all those who collaborate in this work. Thank you to all of you!

And thank you also for choosing to inaugurate this new staging with a special exhibition dedicated to the Amazon, during the days when we are experiencing the Synod dedicated to that region. And for this I also thank the Consolata Missionaries, the Salesians, the Capuchins, the Saverians: different groups who have met in the name of the Amazon.

May this Ethnological Museum preserve its specific identity over time and remind everyone of the value of harmony and peace between peoples and nations. And may the art gathered here make the voice of God resound in those who visit this collection. Thank you very much.
Testo originale nella lingua italiana

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