Peter, Paul, and Bones

Next year marks the 500th anniversary of Michelangelo’s ascent to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where he painted the world’s most celebrated fresco. It’s also the anniversary of the Catholic Church’s Swiss Guard, the Vatican museums, and St. Peter’s Basilica. To commemorate the occasion of its total institutional domination of Europe’s art and culture, the Vatican will display many of its relics and valuables in a traveling exhibition titled “Vatican Splendors: a Journey Through Faith and Art.” The Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art is one of three institutions that will be graced with the church’s 700-year-old Giotto paintings and Gian Lorenzo Bernini baroque sculptures. The only thing better than this collection would be a tour of the Vatican vaults. Among the 200-plus priceless artifacts — many never exhibited before — are papal jewels; bone fragments belonging to Saint Peter and Saint Paul; personal effects of Pope John Paul II; and swords, armor, and uniforms of the papal Swiss Guard. Most stunningly, however, is the inclusion of the compass and tools Michelangelo used at the Sistine Chapel. The objects, as the MoA puts it, are meant to “illustrate the Catholic Church’s impact on history and culture.” Make that a narrow, whitewashed view of its impact, because a Giotto is no more a product of the Church than is a witch-burning stake.
Tuesdays-Sundays, 11 a.m. Starts: Jan. 29. Continues through April 24, 2011

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