Next year is the 500th anniversary of Michelangelos ascent to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, where he painted the worlds most celebrated fresco. Its also the anniversary of the Catholic Churchs establishment of the papal Swiss Guard, the Vatican Museums, and St. Peters Basilica. To commemorate the occasion of its total institutional domination of Europes art and culture, the Vatican is shipping many of its finest valuables in a traveling exhibition to the Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art, one of three locations to be graced with the churchs 700-year-old paintings by Giotto and the baroque sculptures of Gian Lorenzo Bernini. The only thing better than this collection would be a tour of the Vatican vaults. Among the 200-plus priceless artifacts, many never before seen by the public, are papal jewels, bone fragments of Saint Peter and Saint Paul, and Pope John IIs personal effects, along with swords, armor, and uniforms used by the papal Swiss guards plus, most stunningly, the compass and tools employed by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel. The objects, as the MOA puts it, are meant to illustrate the Catholic Churchs impact on history and culture or rather, a narrow, whitewashed view of that impact, since a Giotto is no less a product of the church than a witch-burning stake.
Vatican Splendors: A Journey Through Faith and Art opens Saturday and runs until April 24 at the Museum of Art|Fort Lauderdale, located at 1 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-525-5500, or visit moaflnsu.org.
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Jan. 29. Continues through April 24, 2011