When it comes to Vatican Museum, not many of us would immediately associate the Vatican art collection to the idea of Aboriginal and ethnographic arts and manufacts.
Classicism, marble, gold and mosaic are the most striking element each of us would recall, after visiting those incredible spaces.
However, Anima Mundi museum is one of the most incredible and stunning collections of art, anthropology and ethnography you would ever see in your life.
Formerly considered one world’s most diverse museums of its kind, this place is a tangible sign of the influence and power that Vatican has embodied since its foundation.
Under a truly new course started by Pope Francis, this museum has revamped the underlying connection which joints art to humanity and evolution as the more the culture is being discovered and made relevant, more tolerance and respect can be built.
Founded in the early 1925, the Vatican Missionary Museum of Ethnology was established by Pope Pius XI in the Lateran Palace as it was very much felt the necessity to shed a light on what the surrounding and unknown areas of the globe were looking like.
For more than a century, part of this endless collection which enumerates over 120.000 artifacts was stored within the Floreria Apostoclica, an off-limits area containing the whole spectrum of gifts which were offered to the Vatican over the centuries.
This collection was the end stage result of centuries of missionary travelling which brought many representatives of the Vatican around the globe, including stamps, coins, jewels, clothes, paintings, sculptures and other artifacts.
The first item forming the collection dates back to 1692 and was donated to pope Innocent XII: a square manuscript on pergamena of Precolumbian Era.
Someone could be surely bowled over by the intricate and endless variety of designs which populate an immaculate space, very minimal in design and enhanced by an astonishing candor of the built-in led lighting.
An aesthetic of lightness and transparency creates an open vista that allows the visitor’s gaze to sweep over the entire collections, providing an immediate glimpse of the richness of the civilizations that Vatican has encountered.
Built with the purpose to celebrate the missionaryn vocation, this museum is a stand-alone in the whole Vatican Area, boasting a trans-continental collection of pieces from more than 120 countries.
From the harmonious proportions of countless marble torsos till the anthropomorphic sculptures of the Egyptian eras, still incredibly preserved.
Describing the spirit of the renewed museum, Pope Francis said: “I like to think that what we are inaugurating today is not simply a museum, in its traditional conception“
Very interesting are the numerous devotional gifts from Papua Nuova Guinea till the exceptional Polynesian Deity known as Tu, which was carved from one huge single block of wood and given to Pope Gregory XVI as gift.
Not to mention the significant contributions of Māori Tribes which represent a consistent chunk of items displayed.
Unless you are a numismatist, I would avoid the stamps and coins area: out of any doubts, a section of great interest, endless references and quite impending migraine.
Easy reachable, impaired-people support available and a wonderful coffee area off some incredible gardens. The most unexpected side of the Vatican.