The Way of the Sea
The Way of the Sea

The Way of the Sea

From 1 December 2010
The Helicoidal Ramp, Vatican Museums

On 01 December 2010 sixty models of vessels from all parts of the world will leave the Ethnological Museum to be displayed along the Helicoidal Ramp. This exhibition area is being used for the fist time. Visitors entering the Museums, who wish to enter on foot rather than use the mobile escalator, can admire a collection of miniature ships from all continents, alongside black and white photographs taken by missionaries at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The aim of this exhibition project, Professor Antonio Paolucci, is to "Represent the civilisation of Man, to bear witness historically to the attentiveness, curiosity and respect of the Catholic Universe for human cultures beyond those of Europe, to symbolise the destiny of the Roman Church which is the "Barque of Peter" en route towards the salvation of all and everyone".

Beginning with the Ivukapi pirogue, a rare vessel from the Solomon Islands, the "journey" winds its way around two sailing boats, evidence of the encounter between the West and the East in a world without confines: an elaborate English ship, which commuted between England and Australia and, alongside it, a Japanese sailing ship. Further along is a large array of Asian models, which illustrate the different typologies and functions for which the vessels were used. Of particular interest is the rare Chinese boat in ivory, on which feasts were held, as well as the spindle-shaped canoe belonging to the Thai rulers. Oceania is represented by the pirogues and swallow-tail sailing boats, as well as by a unique example of a canoe from the Solomon Islands with a bird shaped prow, which brings to mind the large Ivukapi pirogue.

Further up visitors will encounter canoes made of bark and the pirogues representative of the inhabitants and civilisations that lived in the vast territories of the Americas. The Mosetenes Raft with two rudders is an example of the great ability of those who had to navigate through turbulent waters, while the vessels of the Alakuf testify to the courage of the people who lived in the hostile climate of the Land of Fire.

At the end of the itinerary, having past the African ships, the visitor is greeted by the breathtaking vision of St. Peter's Dome and the promise of a new journey of discovery through the Museums of the Popes.
The exhibition was arranged by Piero Castri inspired by an idea of Fr. Nicola Mapelli, Curator of the Ethnological Department of the Museums.