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Vatican launches fundraising app for museum restoration projects

The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican Museums (CNS)

The Vatican Museums has launched an app designed to raise funds for a series of restoration projects. The app is called Patrum and is free to download.

Juliana Biondo, head of digital initiatives at the museums’ patrons office, said the app brings together “instant chat technology, crowdsource fundraising and online community building”.

On downloading the app, users have the option of donating to the Vatican Museums or simply using it to stay in touch with the restoration projects. “Silver patrons” are those who contribute to restoration schemes while “gold patrons” are those who individually fund entire restoration projects.

Gold patrons receive access to a direct messaging service to the patrons office curators.

A news bulletin issued three times a week will inform users of the progress of the conservation projects. The app also allows users to browse the collection in the Vatican, which includes works by Michelangelo, Raphael and Botticelli.

Projects include the restitching of an 18th Century French-style Tapestry, and the conservation of 13th and 14th century scrolls by the Chinese calligrapher Zhao Yong.

The Vatican Museums, which were founded in 1506, hope that the app will connect patrons worldwide, and will spark global online conversations within the art heritage industry.

Writing in The Guardian, art critic Jonathan Jones has criticised the app for encouraging restoration projects which are only “pompous acts of self promotion that cover museums in scaffolding and close galleries for no good purpose.”

Ms Biondo said: “We want to create a platform in which, for example, a patron from Ohio could speak with one from Monte Carlo about a work of art they both like, a shared experience in Rome, or a great art event they recently went to.”