Every morning Gianni Crea unlocks the doors to history.
“The real privilege is being able, every day, to walk through this and each day learn something new,” says Gianni Crea, head key keeper of the Vatican Museums. “You’re walking through history and you read lessons that all the popes to this date have preserved.”
The Gallery of Statues and the Hall of Busts showcase works like the Sleeping Ariadne and frescoes painted by Pinturicchio. PHOTOGRAPH BY ALBERTO BERNASCONI, MUSEI VATICANI
“Each morning when I enter the Sistine Chapel I experience a string of emotions,” Crea says. PHOTOGRAPH BY ALBERTO BERNASCONI, MUSEI VATICANI
Can’t make it to the Museums this summer? You can still take a behind the scenes look at the man who opens the collections to the 28,000 daily visitors with Gulnaz Khan of National Geographic.
Khan offers a striking profile on Gianni Crea, the head key keeper at the Vatican Museums, detailing the clavigero’s unique perspective on the beauty and significance of the works he watches over. As a devout Catholic, Crea deeply understands the power and special mission of art in faith.
With complete humility, he states “I’m a simple custodian, but for me the beautiful thing is to conserve and look after the keys of history” as he enables guests from all different cultures and religions to find something moving within the collections.
“I know the smell that is waiting for me when I open the first door is the smell of history—the smell that men before us have breathed in.” It’s the very same ground that they have walked, loved, and cried on, he says.
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On the eve of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and exactly five years since its first inauguration in 2013, the archaeological area of the Monks’ Orchard of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls will complete a long and complex musealisation project, reopening to the public with a new layout, particularly functional and evocative in terms of the museographic and lighting solutions adopted.
In offering to pilgrims and tourists, in an unprecedented and precious look at medieval Rome, the reopening of the site constitutes the concluding moment of an important and complex conservation, restoration and enhancement project that has involved the fruitful interdisciplinary collaboration of various institutional actors, from the Administration of the Papal Basilica as promoter, to the Vatican Museums via the Department of Christian Antiquities and the Conservator’s Office, from the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology to the School for Specialisation in Architectural and Landscape Heritage of “La Sapienza” University of Rome, as well as the Superior Institute for Conservation and Restoration.
The definitive musealisation project involved the completion of the restoration and cleaning of the ancient walls, and of the floor, wall and ceiling surfaces, the production of more structured lighting systems, the improvement of didactic materials, the in situ display of materials discovered during the excavation, the construction of a boardwalk with elements in crystal and steel and, last but not least, the organization of an ordinary maintenance service for the site to prevent its deterioration and to ensure conservation over time, always with the minimal use additional signs and the adoption of the criterion of minimal intervention.
Useful Links: www.basilicasanpaolo.org