I was here once…..
Stepping into the Pope’s Library….From Vatican Radio:
It’s not open to just anyone, so if you want to have an idea what the Vatican Library looks like and what it contains, you now have until January 31st to see an exhibit that opens the doors – virtually – of the Pope’s very own Library to the general public.
The XV century Library allows only accredited scholars and qualified students access to its collection of some 75,000 manuscripts and more than 1.5 million printed books for research. The institute also possesses some 8,500 incunabula and one of the world’s most important collections of coins and medallions.
But now, as part of celebrations marking the September reopening of the Vatican Library after three years of restoration, a special exhibit offering a virtual tour of the institution opens this week in the Braccio Carlo Magno hall to the left of St. Peter’s Square.
The exhibition is comprised of several sections, including: History of the Library, Manuscripts, Drawings and Paintings, Printed Volumes, Prints, Numismatics, Archival Services, and Restoration and Photographic departments. An audio tour accompanies the visitor in one of five languages through a series of thematic exhibit rooms, many of which are enhanced by audiovisual effects.
Among the items on display will be important historical manuscripts dating from the early Christian centuries to the modern era, rare incunabulae, hand illustrated manuscripts and drawings and prints by master artists and a selection of rare coins and medals, some dating to the time of Jesus himself.
Eighty percent of the objects and texts on display are original manuscripts, volumes, sketches and prints from some of the Europe’s most renowned artists from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Here, you’ll find a first edition print of Piranesi’s Scenes of Rome, a self portrait by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and poetic verses and sketches by Michelangelo, not to mention a bizarre work by Botticelli depicting scenes from the Divine Comedy.
In a room which recreates the Library’s frescoed Sistine Hall reading room, complete with wooden tables, chairs and lecterns, visitors will be able to slip on white gloves and examine exact replicas of ancient illustrated manuscripts on subjects that vary from the nutritional and therapeutic properties of herbs, to religious texts including one of the world’s oldest bibles – the fourth century Codex Vaticanus B, geographical maps and falconry.
Vatican Library restorers will also be present at the exhibit to explain how they preserve and repair centuries’ old codices and torn or dog-eared pages, damaged bindings and book covers.
The exhibit in the Braccio Carlo Magno hall runs through January 31, 2011.