VATICAN CITY (CNS) — As a gesture of openness, cooperation and “cultural diplomacy,” the Vatican Museums have organized two joint art exhibitions with China.

“It is the first time ever the pope’s museums have organized an exhibit in the People’s Republic of China,” Barbara Jatta, director of the Vatican Museums, told reporters at a Vatican news conference Nov. 21.


Art, with its “beauty, is an exceptional vehicle for dialogue” in every corner of the world because it is “without fear, without barriers,” she said.

Following through on Pope Francis’ call to be open to the world, Jatta said the initiative was a further show of the church’s long tradition of “what we at the Vatican Museums like to call the ‘diplomacy of art.'”

The initiative, which will begin in March 2018, reflects an openness to and recognition of “that common identity and friendship” that the museums have begun with cultural institutes in China.

The Vatican Museums will be loaning 40 pieces from its ethnological collections for display first in Beijing’s Forbidden City and then in three other cities, including Shanghai. Likewise, China will be loaning 40 pieces from its collections for display in the Vatican Museums as part of the joint exchange.