Vatican ethnological museum objects

(L) Tu, god figure, Gambier Islands, Mangareva Island, collected 1834–1836. Wood. (M) Eketea, god figure, Gambier Islands, Mangareva Island, collected 1834–1836. Wood. (R) Quetzalcoatl figure, “The Plumed Serpent,” Mexico, Aztec, Late Postclassic (AD 1350–1521). Stone. Photos © Vatican Museums. All objects are in the collection of the Vatican Ethnological Museum.

Objects of Belief from the Vatican: Art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas

February 9, 2013September 8, 2013

The rarely seen holdings of the Vatican Ethnological Missionary Museum include 80,000 objects that represent artistic achievements by indigenous cultures from Asia, Oceania, Africa, and the Americas. This very special exhibition—the first time that a U.S. exhibition will focus on the Vatican’s collection of ethnographic art—investigates varying approaches, perspectives, and cultural practices surrounding diverse religious beliefs. 

Each of the objects in the exhibition, a number of which are unique in the world, was created to function as a “materialization of spirituality.” Objects of Belief from the Vatican celebrates the multiple paths to spirituality represented by these objects and will invite viewers to engage in a dialogue that spans religions, cultures, and history.

This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francsico with gratitude for exceptional loans from the collections of the Vatican Ethnological Museum.

Generous support provided by Lauren L. T. Hall and David Hearth, and John F. Kunowski and Richard Benefield.