The Department focuses mainly on the aspects of study, conservation and utilization of the patrimony within its competence.
The study, conducted also in collaboration with colleagues from other Departments and various Vatican and non-Vatican institutions, aims to publish soon the updated catalogue-guides for the Pius-Christian Museum (edited by U. Utro and A. Vella) and the Jewish Lapidarium (edited by I. Di Stefano Manzella, consultant for the Department of Epigraphic Collections), as well as a monographic volume dedicated to the collection of early medieval sculpture (edited by A. Ballardini, University of Roma Tre).
At the complex of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, an extensive archaeological survey conducted by the Vatican Museums in the area of the former Monks’ Orchard (in collaboration with the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archeology) brought to light important remains of the early medieval monastery and of the monumental portico that led pilgrims to the entrance of the basilica. Some preliminary contributions to current studies have been published in specialist magazines and are periodically the subject of meetings and exhibitions within the Vatican Museums.
For aspects of conservation, the project for the complete restoration of the works of the Pius-Christian Museum (sculptures, nineteenth-century copies of cemetery paintings, casts of painted plaster mosaics) is to be highlighted: the restorations, carried out following the most advanced criteria and systematically supported by scientific investigations by the Museums’ Diagnostic Laboratory for Conservation and Restoration, they are a source of continuous discoveries and a stimulus for deeper research. The project is now at an advanced stage, thanks also to the generous contribution of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. The Department is simultaneously involved in ongoing restoration projects in extra-territorial areas, such as those related to the mosaics of the Lateran Baptistery and the nearby “niche” of the Leonian Triclinium, previously belonging to the High Medieval Patriarchal palace; at the aforementioned archaeological site of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, agreements involving numerous institutions have enabled the initiation of a long-term maintenance project regarding archaeological remains, with monitoring support by the Conservator’s Office of the Vatican Museums.
In terms of valorisation, the new museum education material of the Pius-Christian Museum is being produced, involving, on an experimental basis, the installation of multimedia equipment for the presentation of some particularly relevant works. At the same time, some aspects of the museum layout are being rationalized, so as to emphasize works previously not on display to the public. A “tactile” path for the blind has also been integrated into the Museum, again with the contribution of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums. An extensive project for the reorganization of the Jewish Lapidarium will soon be launched, curated by Ivan Di Stefano Manzella, providing for the reorganization and the captioning of about one hundred and fifty Hebrew tomb inscriptions, most of which come from the catacomb of Monteverde in Rome. A next project will cover the re-arrangement and public display of the Christian Lapidarium, with its more than two thousand inscriptions, currently preserved mostly in deposits. In the extra-territorial area of Saint Paul Outside-the-Walls, the Department, in collaboration with the Pontifical Institute of Christian Archaeology, has prepared the layout and opening to the public of the High Medieval archaeological site, brought to light by archaeological investigations.