Vatican Museums’ app gathers funds and art fans

VATICAN CITY — By downloading an app for a smartphone or tablet, members of the public can chat with others about famous works of art in the Vatican Museums, share strategies for dealing with the crowds and choose a work to help restore.

“Patrum,” the new app from the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, launched in mid-August. Part social network and part crowdsourcing, the app lets museum fans communicate with each other and make donations online.

The app includes short feature stories about people who work in the museums or who are members of the Patrons; it provides tips for tourists; and it explains of some of the art and architecture at the Vatican, both well-known and often overlooked.

With a little tap on a bright red button, users also can choose to donate to a specific project. As the app launched, these were some of the things on the Vatican Museums’ wish list:

— Creating a new display for the vestments of Pope Clement VIII, who was pope from 1592 to 1605. The goal is to raise $191,750 for new display cases, climate control to protect the fabrics and the construction of a Mass “scene” with an altar and mannequins to given an idea of what the vestments would look like in their proper environment.

— Purchasing an EOS Synthesis laser for cleaning ancient artifacts. Price tag: $49,500.

— Cleaning, re-sewing and structurally reinforcing five painted scrolls by Zhao Yong, a 14th-century Chinese artist. “These scrolls have suffering from insect damage as well as discoloration and stiffening of the glue from which they were constructed,” the app says. The museums estimate the project cost at $105,996.