|Vatican||POPE INAUGURATES NEW ENTRANCE TO VATICAN MUSEUMS|
On Monday Pope John Paul II inaugurated the new entrance to the Vatican Museums, stressing the symbolic value of the doors as an indication of the Church's 'renewed desire to engage in dialogue with humanity through art and culture'.
"It is truly possible to say," declared the Holy Father, "that, from a cultural point of view, the Museums constitute one of the most important doors of the Holy See, open to the world."
The new structure cost $A40 million. It covers an area of 4600 square meters. The construction took three years, during which the Vatican Museums managed to remain open to the public. Once visitors pass through the new double bronze doors, above which is Pope John Paul's coat-of-arms, sculpted in bronze, they enter a spacious, high-ceilinged, luminous atrium, capable of holding 2000 people.
The 1929 Lateran Pacts, which established Vatican City State, recognised the art housed in the Vatican Museums as property of the Holy See, but stipulated that it must be visible to scholars and visitors. Three years later a new museum entrance into Vatican City was inaugurated. That entrance is now the exit from the museums.