72 hours after opening its doors in Rome at the Quirinal Stables, the exhibition-event dedicated to the genius of the Renaissance, Raphael, closed its doors on March 8, 2020. Like all Italian museums, the institution obeys the government decree providing for the closure of all museums in Italy until April 3 in an attempt to curb the coronavirus epidemic.
The more than 70,000 visitors who have booked their tickets online will therefore have to wait and hope that the closure will not be prolonged, the exhibition will end on June 2.
Before its opening, the exhibition had hit the headlines because of a quarrel among experts over a painting which, according to some, should not have traveled: it is a portrait of Pope Leo X kept in the Uffizi Museum in Florence.
In addition to this prestigious Italian institution which has lent a quarter of the works, the Louvre in Paris, the National Gallery in London, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., as well as the Prado Museum in Madrid have also allowed their paintings to travel. Among the most famous works exhibited at the Quirinal Stables are the “Virgin with the Rose,” and portraits of Pope Julius II, and the writer and diplomat Baldassare Castiglione.
Before the coronavirus came to disrupt the daily lives of Italians, art lovers had been able to take advantage of the ostension—a first since 1983—of the ten great tapestries designed by the genius of Raphael, illustrating the lives of the holy apostles Peter and Paul. On display to the general public from February 17 to 23, 2020 in the Sistine Chapel, at eye level, under the ceiling decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo, as originally planned, they marked the launch of the Year of Raphael, who was recalled to God just half a millennium ago.
All the Vatican museums have followed the instructions of the Italian government and remain closed. Also closed in the country are the large archaeological sites, including the Forum, the Colosseum, the Baths of Caracalla in Rome, and the Pompeii excavations at the Bay of Naples.