Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Tuesday 03 October |
Saint of the Day: St. Theodora Guerin
Aleteia logo
Art & Culture
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Vatican Library opens gallery of contemporary art


Yuri Turkov | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 11/06/21

The exhibition "Everyone: Humanity on Its Way" is an attempt to embrace what Pope Francis has called "the culture of encounter."

Pope Francis has inaugurated a new gallery of contemporary art at the Vatican Library. The pope became the first visitor to the new installation on November 5, 2021, when he viewed the exhibition, titled: “Everyone: Humanity on Its Way.”

The exhibit will be on display at the Vatican Library from now until February. The Vatican librarian Cardinal José Tolentino de Mendonça noted that the new gallery will support the “culture of encounter,” reported Art Review. The Cardinal said: 

“Our challenge is to strengthen the cultural role of the Vatican in the contemporary world.”

CNA reports that among the exhibits is a 20-foot map of the Nile River, created in the 17th century by Ottoman explorer Evliya Çelebi. Much of the rest of the exhibition will be filled out by unpublished works from the contemporary artist Pietro Ruffo of Rome. Ruffo said of his time at the Vatican Library: 

“The encounter with the immense patrimony of the Vatican Apostolic Library was for me a journey into knowledge, geography, and the history of humanity.”

Ruffo’s exhibits will connect with the Nile map, as well as other historical maps of the world and the stars. The Roman artist believes that the conjunction between his research and these historical maps show an interconnectedness between cultures. He also noted that it will demonstrate the relationship between humanity and our “fragile relationship with the ecosystem.”

One of the most eye-catching aspects of the display will be the transformation of the Sala Barberini archive. The narrow room built in the 17th century has been decorated in order to give visitors the impression of walking through a “lush tropical forest.” This display is expected to provide insight into the topic of “non-geographical cartography.” 

Amico Hoops explains

The topic is “non-geographical cartography,” understood as that interior that man throughout history wanted to reveal through the representative scheme of the map: a way to describe not only the objectivity of the Earth, but also ideals, travel, discoveries and beliefs. “Audiences – explains Don Giacomo Cardinale – will find allegorical, theological, satirical and emotional maps exposed. Maps of desire and protest, of dreams and human despair.”

According to a press release, the pope said that because beauty “springs from the root of good, truth and justice,” it must nourish the heart of man. This “new beauty,” the pontiff continued, must therefore no longer be “the usual reflection of the power of a few,” but on the contrary a “courageous mosaic of the diversity of all.” Drawing in the thematic element of maps, he noted that “maps of the future,” also make it possible to “translate more and more our heritage into new languages.”

This is just the first full-scale art exhibit at the Vatican Library. Come February, when the “Everyone: Humanity on Its Way” exhibition ends, the Vatican is expected to draw on its vast collection of historical resources for another display. According to CNA, the Vatican Library contains some 180,000 preserved manuscripts, 1.6 million printed books, and 200,000 historical photographs. This is just a portion of its catalog. 

The exhibition “Everyone: Humanity on Its Way” will run until February. It will be open to the public for a few hours every Tuesday and Wednesday by reservation.

Read more at CNA.

Support Aleteia!

Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Thanks to their partnership in our mission, we reach more than 20 million unique users per month!

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting and transformative Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Support Aleteia with a gift today!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Entrust your prayer intentions to our network of monasteries

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.