Share →

ArtWatch spoke out concerning the fundraising schemes at the Vatican back in November 2013. But now it seems they have gone beyond their annual five-day VIP tour of the Vatican’s historic buildings and collection to appeal to donors for big conservation projects, and have thought up an enterprising new way to generate support via social media. The Vatican just came out with a new smartphone app that donors can use to connect with each other and learn of new funding opportunities for restoration projects at the Vatican Museums.

 

Image from the PVAM website showing staff presenting to patrons on recent restoration make-overs.

Image from the PAVM website showing staff presenting to patrons on recent restoration make-overs.

The 32 year-old “Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Musems” program has successfully created multiple opportunities for the restoration of works of art in the collection. Each year the Vatican Museums produce a “Wishbook” that highlights major restoration projects they’d like funding for. It serves as a kind of gift list for American patrons wooed by the glamour of associating themselves with a fine centuries-old arts collection such as that held by the Vatican; a book filled with unending avenues by which one may enter into an “influential community of art philanthropists.”  There is an entire website and 7-person staff devoted to pursuing of deep-pocketed Americans looking for a tax break and a private service at the Sistine Chapel. And now, members of the various chapters throughout the U.S. can use their smartphones through the app “Patrum” to find out about new high-profile restoration projects that will serve to enhance their reputation as international arts ambassadors. According the Juliana Biondo at the Vatican Museum patron office, Patrum is “the first cultural institution app bringing together instant chat technology, crowdsource fundraising, and online community building.”

According to its description on the Apple website:

Patrum screenshot. Courtesy: Apple iTunes Store.

Patrum screenshot. Courtesy: Apple iTunes Store.

On Patrum, one can:

*Discover the Vatican Museums collection behind the scenes
*Receive daily updated “in the know” Vatican Museums news
*Comment on your favorite works of art
*Interest your favorite works of art and news to receive tailored alerts
*Chat fellow art lovers
*Donate to restoration projects
*Instantly chat Patrons staff curators
*Connect with current Patrons (or become one!)

Once you download “Patrum,” you are immediately thrust into a kind of restoration game in which donors of larger amounts are awarded “gold” status and can directly message the patrons office curators. The app also offers quicker updates on restorations in progress, giving the Vatican collection immediate access to your attention wherever you may be roaming.
Is this strategy what is really needed to maintain the best quality of preservation for priceless works of art at the Vatican? Or does it simply serve as a constant stream of funds by which the white-washing of such significant works as the Sistine ceiling are accomplished? Director and member of the fundraising religious order known as the Legion of Christ, Father Mark Haydu, says annual revenues from PAVM average about $5 million.  In fact, the Museum itself is the main generator of income to support the Vatican City State itself. Prodej ready made . How did art become the funder for a government? How has this altered how the art is treated, if the Vatican is only able to run based on how many visitors they can get to walk through the doors? Ticket sales for 2014 totaled around $87 million, from which the State took half for its operations.
What we would like to know is: are works of art not really needing conservation treatment being pushed for it just to cultivate donors who can give to the Museum in other forms? Are works being unnecessarily touched by conservators and, thereby, forever altered? If the PAVM is able to crowdfund millions per year for treatments, what does this mean about the conditions of the works at the Vatican that they “require” such attention?
By Ruth Osborne

 

 

Tagged with →