(Editor's note: This story ran in The A-J on Oct. 3, 2001.)
With about 60,000 tickets already reserved eight months before the Museum of Texas Tech opens an auspicious exhibit of art from the Vatican Museums in Rome, security is on the minds of all involved.
Former Texas Tech President Donald Haragan indicated Oct. 2, 2001 that the university needed confirmation from the Vatican and Continental Airlines that plans would not be changed because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"We were worried," said Haragan, "but the exhibit definitely will be here, and it will a high point of life in this museum and this community as well."
"Traditions and Renewal: Medieval Frescoes from the Vatican Museums" will be exhibited June 2 through Sept. 15, 2002, at the Tech museum.
Admission is free, but date/time-of-day must be reserved in advance.
Call 742-6800 or (866) 803-6873 for tickets.
The Rev. Malcolm Neyland, the local Catholic priest who first requested art from the Vatican five years ago, said that he had spoken with Francesco Buranelli, director of the Vatican Museums.
Neyland said, "My friend told me that he wanted all of the Americas to know that the Vatican museums are firm in their commitment to see to it that arts and culture are not interrupted by evil acts of intimidation."
Dana R. Bates, a manager within Continental Airlines' cargo division in Houston, called the opportunity to ship priceless frescoes from the Vatican "a once in a lifetime privilege" for the airline.
She said later that discussions regarding security, climate control aboard the flights and other transportation needs would take place when several Continental representatives meet in Rome on Oct. 15 with an Italian shipping company familiar with Vatican Museum needs.
Gary Edson, executive director of the Museum of Texas Tech, said Vatican security personnel "probably will not be used."
Instead, security will be layered, with protection offered by Texas Tech University police, Lubbock police and the museum's security staff, he said.
The museum also will use motion detectors and "increased surveillance of people when they enter the museum," said Edson.
A cloakroom will be available at the entrance, where patrons can store forbidden cameras, backpacks and bags.
Edson also unveiled a model depicting a redesigned gallery where the art works from Rome will be displayed, and the path visitors will follow through the exhibition.
He noted that, while 200 visitors will be admitted each hour, every visitor would be allowed to stay and peruse the art with no time limitations.
(LubbockOnline.com reporter Michael Gaffney contributed to this report.)