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On 22 November 2012 the Ethnological Museum inaugurated and opened to the public the exhibition "THE ETHNOLOGICAL MUSEUM: HISTORY, MYSTERY AND TREASURES. A journey through the splendour of world cultures", curated by Fr. Nicola Mapelli, Katherine Aigner and Nadia Fiussello.


The Ethnological Museum was founded by Pope Pius XI with the Motu Proprio Quoniam tam praeclara on 12 November 1926, on the closure of the Universal Missionary Exhibition, which the Pontiff himself had desired on the occasion of the Holy Year of 1925. On 21 December 1927 the museum was inaugurated in the rooms of the Lateran Palace where it remained until 1963. In 1973, under the pontificate of Paul VI, it was relocated in its present site in the Vatican. The original nucleus of the collection, of about 40,000 works, had been chosen by a special committee - in which the Verbite Father Wilhelm Schmidt was very active - from among 100,000 objects from all over the world, offered to the Pope from private donors, from the missions and from 400 Dioceses for the great Exhibition of 1925. Over the years, the initial collection has been enriched with new acquisitions and donations offered to the Pontiffs.
Among these must be nemtioned the collection of the Borgiano Museum of Propaganda Fide, the collection of Chinese numismatics of Father Giuseppe Kuo, the plaster protraits of the American-Indian populations made by the German sculptor Ferdinand Pettrich, and again the collection of prehistorical objects of the British School of Archaeology of Jerusalem and the precious collection of ceremonial objects from the area of Sepik (New Guinea) that belonged to Father Kirschbaum.
The present museum collection, which amounts to about 100,000 works.

 
Tu, main divinity of the pantheon of Mangareva island