26 August 2019

Working “to make history alive, tangible and understandable.” The fifth meeting of the Scientific Committee of the Terra Sancta Museum is fast approaching

by ELEONORA MUSICCO

The fifth Scientific Committee of the Terra Sancta Museum will officially commence on September 24. The 23 members of the team that has been studying the collections of the Custody of the Holy Land since 2017 and preparing for the opening of the museum’s Historical Section will soon arrive in Jerusalem from the West.

Scholars and museum directors from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland and the United States will meet to discuss the problems concerning the artworks that the Franciscans have been preserving for 800 years and how to make the most of them in the future museum.

In previous meetings held in Paris and Jerusalem, the Scientific Committee has considered various issues such as the selection of works to be exhibited in the museum, the study of the collection, the museography and architectural diagnosis of the museum, and more specific matters such as the choice of windows, lighting, conservation and restoration of the works. In this regard, the Custody has established a collaborative relationship with the Higher Institute for Conservation and Restoration, a prestigious Roman institution that currently possesses some of the works under restoration that will be returned to Jerusalem before the end of the year and exhibited at the Terra Sancta Museum.

Béatrix Saule, Honorary General Conservative Director of the Castle of Versailles, Jaques Charles-Gaffiot, Art Historian and iconography specialist, and George Al’Ama, Palestinian art collector and specialist, during a meeting of the Scientific Committee in 2018

During the meeting, the members of the Committee will be informed about the progress made since the beginning of the year until September, both in the cataloging of the Custody’s heritage and in the construction of the first location of the future museum. The Committee will also discuss the themes of the different museum rooms dedicated to the gifts that European kingdoms have sent to the Franciscan friars over the centuries.

Father Stéphane Milovitch, Director of the Cultural Heritage Office of the Custody of the Holy Land and specialist in liturgy, with the members of the Scientific Committee

Each scholar will deal with the geographical areas they are experts on. José Manuel Luis Valdovinos (Professor of Art History at the Complutense University of Madrid) will represent Spain and Portugal, while Michèle Bimbenet-Privat (General Conservator of the Department of Decorative Arts at the Louvre Museum) and Danièle Veron Denise (Honorary Heritage Conservator at the Château de Fontainebleau) will speak for France. Paulus Rainer (Conservator of the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Emeritus Director of the Kunskammer in Vienna) and Benoit Constensoux (Art Historian at the Kugel Gallery in Paris) will be presenting their contributions on the Holy Roman Empire, while Przemyslaw Mrozowski (Honorary General Director of the Royal Castle in Warsaw) will speak on behalf of Poland. As a native of northern Italy, Andreina Contessa (Director of the Miramare Castle and Park in Trieste) will talk about the Republics of Venice, Lombardy and Liguria, and Barbara Jatta (Director of the Vatican Museums) will speak for the Papal States. The discussion of Italian territories will conclude with contributions from Jacques Charles Gaffiot and Antonello Ricco, both art historians, who will talk about the realm of Naples.

The Committee members await their next meeting with enthusiasm: “In this project, we are working with a fantastic collection and fantastic colleagues to create a grand vision. We want nothing less than to make history alive, tangible and understandable. It is the unique artworks and unparalleled historical sites that are the ambassadors and witnesses of this history. They breathe the spirit of the past that is the foundation of our being today. Simply show the artworks and sites, and they will tell their stories; we will learn from their messages. We want to make this part of history accessible to all of humanity. This is our task,” declares Paulus Rainer.

Gael de Guichen, Consultant for the General Director of ICCROM (the International Center for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, an organization based in Rome) also expressed his pride in participating in the Terra Sancta Museum project: “When I was asked to join the Scientific Committee, I accepted right away because I immediately understood the unique scope of this project: to make known, through the enhancement of an exceptional and completely unknown collection, the presence and the fundamental role of the Franciscans in Jerusalem since the 13th century.”

Hence, it is in this spirit that the fifth Scientific Committee will convene in Jerusalem, in the hope that the Terra Sancta Museum project can continue to grow day by day with the support and contributions of everyone who loves the Holy Land.

To know all the members of the Governance of the Terra Sancta Museum click here.