In two years, Lubbock residents will get a chance to see centuries-old art that no one's ever seen on exhibit.
Included in a traveling exhibit from the Vatican Museums will be about 30 frescoes from the 11th, 12th and 13th centuries that were originally on display in St. Agnes Church in Rome, said the Rev. Malcolm Neyland, judicial vicar of the Tribunal Diocese of Lubbock.
The frescoes will be part of an exhibit on display at the Texas Tech Museum from June 2002 to August 2002.
''It's certainly a first for Lubbock,'' Neyland said. ''They are very colorful. They are very descriptive, and they are beautiful. I think the color is what will impress people.''
Currently, the pieces are being restored in a lab and will be on display, said Donald Haragan, Tech president. He returned this week from a trip to Rome with Neyland, where he represented the university.
In addition to a peek at the frescoes, the group's most recent trip also secured an agreement that the much-publicized exhibit is now a certainty.
''We still have some details to work out, but verbally, we have an agreement now,'' Haragan said. ''I am confident it's a done deal.''
Many of the frescoes feature St. Catherine, who was martyred in the late 12th or early 13th ce ntury, Neyland said. Because St. Agnes Church was a convent, very few likely have seen the art.
The frescoes, which cover a range of sizes, aren't the only Vatican items expected to travel to Lubbock. Neyland said the exhibit organizers are keeping other items as a surprise until some time closer to 2002.
Neyland and Tech Museum Director Gary Edson are traveling to Mexico City soon to look at adding some non-Vatican pieces to the exhibit, including two letters written by Christopher Columbus, hand-done scripts and retablos, a Latin-American form of sacred art. The exhibit may also include Aztec pieces.
''We're still continuing our unique theme of combining what was going on the Old World with what was happening in the New World at the same time,'' Neyland said. ''I am very happy and pleased that Lubbock was chosen for this.''
The exhibit will be the first time a traveling exhibit from the Vatican has been sent to only one museum and the first time a smaller, isolated city like Lubbock has hosted an exhibit from the Vatican.