The first collection of art from the Vatican Museums in Rome to be loaned to a single city will open in March 2002 at the Museum of Texas Tech in Lubbock, according to The Rev. Malcolm L. Neyland, judicial vicar of the Tribunal Diocese of Lubbock.
The exhibit, titled ''Treasures of the Vatican, Five Centuries of Exaltation: The Heritage of Europe and the Americas 1300-1800,'' is expected to remain on view in Lubbock through June 2002.
No fee will be charged to view the yet-to-be determined artworks, expected to attract international attention.
Neyland noted that he will be joined by Tech Chancellor John Montford and Montford's wife, Debbie, during a February visit to the Vatican to meet Pope John Paul II and view artifacts that might be included in the exhibit.
Montford was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
John Paul II
Gary Edson, Tech museum director, indicated in November that Tech did not have a signed contract for the exhibit from the Vatican.
He said Tuesday he didn't know anything about the announcement of a specific opening date in Lubbock. ''I really cannot comment without clarification from the administration of the university.''
Neyland said Tuesday, ''Of course this exhibit will be at the Tech Museum.
''It is the Vatican's desire to make this wonderful collection of historical art available to everyone. The artifacts have been allowed out of safe keeping of the Vatican only a few times in history.
''The Texas Tech exhibit will indeed be an historic event.''
The Vatican, Neyland said, ''wanted to know if (Lubbock and Tech's museum) could handle such a huge project. So much security must be set in place because no one can set a price on these works of art.''
''The opening will attract diplomats, which is why I sought endorsements from national and international figures. Cardinals from the church will come.''
Neyland pointed out that the Vatican Museums never have loaned treasures to any smaller, isolated market and that Vatican art usually is shared, an example being a collection that traveled from New York to New Orleans to San Francisco.
The announced exhibit will be displayed only in Lubbock, then returned to Rome, he said.
William Kerns can be contacted at email@example.com or 766-8712