The Greatest Museums Featuring Catholic Pieces And Collections To Cure Our Met Gala Hangover
We’re not quite over the fanfare at the 2018 Met Gala that featured the theme “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” To follow up our Met Gala hangover, here are some museums to check out for your dose of Catholic artifacts and religious paintings.
Perhaps the most Catholic museum that you can visit in the world are the Vatican Museums, a number of museums housed in a 5.5-hectare complex called the Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano. The complex houses two palaces—the original Vatican palace and the 15th-century Palazzetto di Belvedere—and is connected by two long strips of galleries and features three huge courtyards. It’s founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th century and features one of the world’s greatest art collections.
The Palazzo Apostolico Vaticano is so huge one can’t cover the three courtyards in a day, and is better visited with an audio guide such as the Guide to the Vatican Museums and City or a hired personal guide.
Some of the most important focal points of the whole complex that one must not miss include the Pinacoteca, the papal picture gallery where Rafael’s last work Transfiguration is housed; the Museo Pio-Clementino, where the Vatican Museums’ finest classical statures stand such as the Apollo Belvedere and the Lacocoon; and the Raphael Rooms, which are four frescoed chambers that were painted by Raphael himself.
The highlight and the most magnificent part of the tour, of course, is the Sistine Chapel, where two of the world’s most precious and breathtaking works of art could be admired: Michelangelo’s ceiling frescoes and his Last Judgement.
The legendary Louvre Museum is the world’s largest museum and home to one of the most impressive art collections in the world. The Louvre was originally built as a fortress to serve as a royal palace in 1190, and was only converted as a museum in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte. The architecture of the Louvre itself should not be missed, and is a fusion of Gothic and Renaissance, with a touch of Louis XIII, Neo-Classicism, and Baroque styles.
Although many modern and non-religious pieces are at home at the Louvre, including the famous Mona Lisa, the museum is still home to a vast number of Catholic-inspired art. For one, the Le Couronnement de la Vierge by Fra Angelico at the Denon Wing is a must-see, an extraordinary piece of medieval painting depicting the Assumption of the Virgin Mary that was created by Fra Angelico way back in 1430 to 1432.
There are a bounty of Virgin Mary images at the Louvre, including The Virgin of the Grapes by Pierre Mignard, and the The Virgin and Child With Saint Anne and The Virgin of the Rocks, both by Leonardo Da Vinci.
When it comes to Catholic religious art, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain is one of your best bets. It is one of the world’s premier museums, with over 8,000 drawings, 7,000 paintings, 4,000 prints, and 1,000 sculptures in its collection. Originally constructed as a house of science, the Museo del Prado officially became a museum when King Fernando VII decided to use the palace to store the royal paintings in 1814.
And since Spain is one of the countries that has long been and stayed predominantly Catholic through the years, it is not surprising that the Museo del Prado is filled to the brim with religious images and artifacts.
Famous Spanish artist Francisco de Goya, of course, is all over the three floors of the Prado, with some of his religious bests: Christ Crucified, The Holy Family with the Infant Saint John the Baptist, The Holy Family, and The Immaculate Conception.
Some of the museum’s masterpieces also include Catholic pieces such as The Annunciation by Fra Angelico, The Descent from the Cross by Rogier Van Der Weyden, The Crucifixion by Juan de Flandes, The Cardinal by Raphael, the Immaculate Conception by Giambattista Tiepolo, and Christ Crucified by Diego Velázquez.
And, of course, where else best to cure your Met Gala hangover than the Met itself? The largest museum in the United States, the Met is one of the world’s biggest and most visited museums, boasting of seventeen separate departments and a diverse collection of ancient Egypt, European masters, modern art, and several more from African, Asian, Oceanian, and Byzantine cultures.
One of the departments inside the Met, the Costume Institute will become the home of this year’s Spring 2018 exhibition of religious artifacts. The Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination collection that has been the centerpiece of this year’s Met Gala, is on view at the Met from May 10 to October 8 this year. For this limited period, it will become home to 40 ecclesiastical masterworks straight from the sacristy of the Sistine Chapel, many of which have never been seen outside the Vatican. Papal vestments, rings, tiaras, and religious accessories worn by 15 popes across four centuries can be visited at the exhibition, in addition to the various Catholic-inspired ensembles created by the world’s most prominent designers.
Today, The Met is holding a press preview for The @MetCostumeInstitute exhibition “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination,” on view from May 10 through October 8 at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. #MetHeavenlyBodies features a dialogue between fashion and medieval art from The Met collection to examine fashion's ongoing engagement with the devotional practices and traditions of Catholicism. Be among the first to see the exhibition during @MetMembers Previews tomorrow and Wednesday. Join today at metmuseum.org/join #TheMet #MetGala #CostumeInstitute #MetCloisters