ROME, Nov. 25 (Xinhua) -- The Vatican and a Beijing-based fund have been working to organize joint art exhibitions which will take place simultaneously in the Vatican Museums and in China's Forbidden City in the spring of 2018, the Vatican Radio has reported.
The two exhibitions are part of a joint project called "Beauty unites us," which is promoted by the Vatican and China Culture Industrial Investment Fund.
The two sides will lend each other 40 works of art from their collections.
The idea is to promote "cultural collaboration through the universal language of art," according to the Vatican Radio.
This will be the Vatican's first-ever show in China, Vatican Museums Director Barbara Jatta told Vatican Radio in an interview posted online. "It is much more than an exhibition," Jatta said.
"It is a project of friendship and cultural and artistic exchange," Jatta said, adding that Pope Francis wants "to build bridges and create dialogue between different cultures, through the diplomacy of art."
Most people don't realize that over half of the Vatican Museums collections are made up of non-European works of art, said Father Nicola Mapelli, curator of the Vatican's Anima Mundi Museum, which houses tens of thousands of works of art from Asia, Australia, and the Americas.
Over the centuries, China had sent precious gifts to Catholic popes, including paintings, statues, and other priceless works, said Mapelli.
These beautiful items will be loaned for exhibition in Beijing, while China will loan 12 paintings by Chinese artist Zhang Yan as well as other works of art illustrating the thousands of years of Chinese art history, according to Mapelli. "We are trying to build bridges through art," Mapelli said.
China Culture Industrial Investment Fund Secretary General Jiancheng Zhu said the event is very important for promoting mutual trust and understanding.
Zhang said that he is inspired by the works of Italian Renaissance masters such as Caravaggio, Michelangelo, and Raphael, many of whose masterpieces are housed in the Vatican Museums complex.
"I believe art has no nationality and no boundaries, so I am convinced that cultural exchanges can be more and more beneficial, including between China and the Vatican," the artist told Vatican Radio.