Planned China-Vatican exhibit a sign both sides moving to improve relations: experts

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2017/11/22 22:38:39

A sign ‘both sides seriously moving to improve relations’

China's Forbidden City and the Vatican Museums are reportedly preparing to swap 40 artworks for a simultaneous exhibit next year, a move experts said is a sign that both sides are seriously moving to improve relations. 

The two museums are preparing to exchange as many as 40 artworks, and the works - including Chinese ceramics and paintings kept at the Vatican - will be displayed at simultaneous exhibits in March at both the former seat of the Dragon Throne in Beijing and the pope's ethnological museum, AFP reported on Tuesday.

Among the 40 works the Vatican will be lending, 38 will come from its "Anima Mundi" ancient Chinese collection. The 39th will be loaned from the Pinacoteca art gallery, while the last will be a work that artist Zhang Yan donated to Pope Francis, AFP reported.

Several employees of the Forbidden City declined to comment on the arrangement when reached by the Global Times on Wednesday.

China and the Vatican have no diplomatic relations and the two sides have been negotiating a way to appoint bishops in China.

The exhibit, if confirmed, will provide a great chance for Vatican to experience Chinese culture closer than texts or pictures from books, said Wang Meixiu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Wang told the Global Times on Wednesday that she considers the event a great beginning for official Sino-Vatican cultural and art cooperation, and a small but solid step toward greater mutual understanding and, hopefully, cooperation in other fields.

The arrangement is a significant sign of good intentions on both sides - the Catholic Church and the Chinese people are seriously working on improving ties with no malice at all, Francesco Sisci, a senior researcher at the Center of European Studies at the Renmin University of China and a Vatican affairs expert, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

He added that the exhibit itself will show the love the Catholic Church has for the Chinese people by displaying how the Vatican treasures Chinese culture.

"I am firmly convinced that the imminent exhibit will open a new chapter in cultural exchanges between the Chinese people and the Vatican," Zhu Jiancheng, general secretary of the China Culture Industrial Investment Fund, told AFP.

"The event is very important to promoting mutual understanding and mutual trust," Zhu was quoted as saying by AFP.

The exhibit in China will begin in Beijing before heading to four other Chinese cities, AFP reported.

Newspaper headline: China, Vatican to hold art exhibits

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