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Pope Francis

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Vatican Museums unveils their latest Ethnology collection: “The Americas”

2016-06-19


The Vatican Museums introduced both a new addition to their already expanding Ethnological collection and a multi-lingual book, both are appropriately titled, "The Americas.” Katherine Aigner is one of the editors for the book and a longstanding collaborator at the Vatican museum. 

KATHERINE AIGNER
Historian and co-author "The Americas" 
"I've been collaborating with the museum on a project of reconnecting. Which means, reconnecting with the objects, the indigenous objects, with a source communities. So, for The Americas it was located the communities where they had been sent from 100 years ago.”

The year 1691 marked the beginning of the Vatican's Ethnological Museum and the first year the objects from a culture outside of Europe were presented. For example, this stone feathered serpent known as a Quetzalcoatl, who was also known as the Aztec Mexican deity of wind and wisdom. 

KATHERINE AIGNER
Historian and co-author "The Americas" 
"The majority of the objects in the museum came in 1925 for an exhibition that was set up by Pope Pius XI and he asked for all the missionaries around the world to send objects, really to educate European audience about the other cultures living in the world.”

These statues of Natives Americans are part of a set of more than 30 artworks created prior to 1850 by a German artist who studied in Rome then traveled  to America during the times of sovereignty in the United States. 

KATHERINE AIGNER
Historian and co-author "The Americas" 
"It was a studied collection for the European audience to see how the indigenous people around the world lived and also their spiritual culture life.”

Both the exhibit and the book help to shed some light on the fact that cultures are always evolving, with different influences creating new artistic forms of expressions. Indigenous peoples from all over the world who have long been creating magnificent and skilled works of art. The masks, clothing material, pottery and statues that were taken from the natural world to perform rituals and depict the complexity of the spiritual world. 


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