Getting cultural n’at – Vatican Splendors

Last Saturday Lushie and I took some time for ourselves and spent the afternoon down at Vatican Splendors showing until Jan 9th at the Senator John Heinz History Center. I have been pumped to see this exhibit from the moment it was announced. I’m no where near over the top uber catholic boy but after 12 years of catholic schooling I have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. I’m also a big sucker for anything historical so this was an absolute must.

Michelangelo items and works by Bernini, Giotto, and others. Objects dating back to the first century. From the venerated relics (bone fragments) of Saint Peter and Saint Paul to personal items of Pope John Paul II, this exhibit comprises one of the largest Vatican collections ever to tour North America. Many items have never before been on public view. From culture to history to art, explore how the Papacy has impacted-and been impacted by-the world throughout the centuries.

First impressions
Old people. A LOT of them. I guess that’s to be expected when you’re going to look at something ancient and religious based. There were some 30-somethings there but I think they were all parents also looking for an afternoon off.

What I liked
It wasn’t as much a “spiritual OMG” as I thought it would be but from a historical view I was really into the garments, religious symbols,  and statues. The casting of Pope John Paul II hands were beautiful and given the chance to actually put my hands on one of the displays seemed surreal. It amazed me the engineering it must have taken to build these empires for the popes and just the scaffolding alone for Michaelangelo’s work plus his caliper was mind boggling. The highlight was seeing the the Cast of the Pietà which was the most famous of the items on display. (side note: Lushie saw there was a stinkbug on the Pieta. I hope they dont take it back to Rome).

What I didn’t like
They offered audio tours for $5. You get a headset/player and get to listen to an audio tour. While I’m sure that was great to listen to it made everyone into drones. Countless number of people were cutting in front of us, reading the signs out loud because they couldn’t hear themselves over the headphones, Lushie got a couple elbows from inconsiderate folk trying to get ahead, freaky smelly old people who would act like they were religious experts and try to tell everyone around them about each artifact when all they know is what they watched on History Channel. There was some art student who kept saying everything was fake because she studies art and she knows what’s real *ugh*. WAY too many paintings for me. I’m not a paintings guy so it bored me. Final thing, while I know you’re trying to make some cash at this gig did you really need to sell short glasses and bottle openers? Rosaries, prayer books, Christmas ornaments… and shot glasses. No I didn’t get one.

It was worth the price of admission ($23/person) being this close to religious history I will probably never see again. Besides a few rotten apples we really did have a good time. Everyone should at least check it out but be considerate of those around you.