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Can't make it to Rome? Art expert provides up-close and personal view by video

vatican museums

Giuseppe Ciccia | NurPhoto | NurPhoto via AFP

John Burger - published on 07/10/20

Masters' Gallery Rome brings together expertise of Elizabeth Lev and a number of other historians.

The European Union recently imposed restrictions on residents of countries where the COVID-19 virus has spiked. That includes the United States. Lots of people’s travel plans are being disrupted this summer, but a lost dream vacation also means lost wages on the part of the tourist industry.

Take, for example, the thousands of people who make their living as tour guides. If no one comes to, say, Rome, what will tour guides do to pay their bills?

At least one such guide has found a way both to give non-travelers a taste of Rome and to maintain the fees she relies on.

Rome-based art historian Elizabeth Lev created Masters’ Gallery Rome, a website where people can take “virtual tours” of Rome and enroll in courses to learn about the origins of its great art and architecture.

With 20 years of experience in Rome, Lev is the author of four books and has commented on art and the papacy for several television networks. Her latest project was hosting a radio show for BBC’s Heart and Soul on Leonardo da Vinci.

She is joined on Masters’ Gallery Rome by a number of art historians and archaeologists. Video course prices range from about $10 to $25.

Lev told Catholic News Service July 8 that Masters’ Gallery Rome breaks down and explains the information about artistic works, “pulling out the bits of knowledge that you need to know in order to understand the image.”

But its value is not restricted to giving virtual tours. It can also be a way for travelers to prepare for a trip to Rome, Lev said.

Hopefully, that day is not far off.

“A little bit of getting ready and knowing what you’re going to see will only make your experience greater and allow you to really move beyond the tsunami of information you receive once you get here and begin to open yourself up to how the art, the history and the faith all work together,” Lev told the news service.

Plus, as many students have had to “attend” school classes online rather than in person, and might need to continue doing so in the fall, Lev said the Masters’ Gallery Rome can also be helpful in presenting “history, humanities, art, the things that are being dropped by the wayside and to be able to instill them in the next generation.”

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