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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 9 NOV 2010 (VIS) - At 11.30 a.m. today a press conference was held in the Holy See Press Office to present an exhibition entitled "Knowing the Vatican Library. A History Open to the Future". The exhibition is to be held in the Charlemagne Wing off St. Peter's Square from 11 November 2010 to 31 January 2011.

  Participating in today's presentation were Cardinal Raffaele Farina S.D.B., archivist and librarian of Holy Roman Church; Msgr. Cesare Pasini and Ambrogio Maria Piazzoni, respectively prefect and vice prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library; Barbara Jatta, the organiser of the exhibition, and Fr. Cesare Atuire, director general of Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

  "The exhibition", Cardinal Farina explained, "aims to make the Vatican Library known to people who do not have the privilege of frequenting it. But it also seeks to make the broad range of its academic, cultural and artistic treasures better known to its regular users. ... Above all it wishes to expose people to the daily activities that take place outside the reading rooms. ... One part of the Vatican Library, the historical part, can be admired on the itinerary of the Vatican Museums, but that its not the living part. This exhibition, thanks to a number of stands manned by library staff, brings, if only in part, a breath of the life of this daily activity and represents the true novelty of this exhibition with respect to earlier ones".

  "Yet something will still be missing from this arrangement: the readers", said the cardinal. "To compensate for this failing, the exhibition will welcome visitors in a virtual reconstruction ... and groups of pilgrims and school children touring St. Peter's Basilica will also be able to visit the exhibition. It is an exalted cultural undertaking which makes up for the impossibility of accommodating visitors in the limited physical confines of the Vatican Library and gives people who appreciate the treasures of culture and beauty the opportunity to know and marvel at our institution [which houses the] patrimony of humanity and the roots of our civilisation and our faith".

  For her part Barbara Jatta explained how the organisation of the exhibition will be "traditional, but at the same time modern and communicative. ... Along with the traditional sections (seven in number: history, manuscripts, prints, designs, coins and medals, other services, and the workshops) a multimedia itinerary has also been created, using videos and computers to give people an understanding of the institution. This was a deliberate choice to underline how technology and innovation have been a priority of the Vatican Library for decades".

  "Noteworthy aspects - apart from extraordinary manuscripts, incunabula, ... medals, etc. - include the recreation of the Library's Sistine Hall, the great sixteenth-century frescoed area created by order of Pope Sixtus V, the decoration of which focuses on the history of alphabets, the libraries of antiquity, and Church Councils associated with the theme of books".

  The exhibition also includes recreations of the restoration and photographic workshops. "The restorers will work on the restoration of ancient codices, stitching bindings and restoring designs and prints in front of the public", said Ms Jatta.

  Msgr. Pasini announced that from 11 to 13 November, to coincide with the inauguration of the exhibition, "a conference will be held to analyse the period of the last sixty years, both in terms of the studies undertaken in the Library and its contacts with external institutions, and the life and activities of the Library and the experience it has acquired in its various departments".
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