VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2003 ( The International Biennial of Modern Art will honor the laboratories of the Vatican Museums for their "noteworthy commitment in the field of art, with the continual restoration of the greatest patrimony of humanity."

The biennial, which will celebrate its fourth edition Dec. 6-14 in Florence, Italy, was presented during a press conference Tuesday in the Vatican Museums, according to the Vatican Information Service.

This year, 890 artists from 70 nations will participate. The director of the exhibition is John Spike, art critic and historian. The conference agenda includes a seminar Dec. 9 by David Hockney on the optical instruments of Renaissance artists.

With respect to the Vatican Museums, the main restoration projects completed throughout the years will be documented, from objects of ancient Mediterranean civilizations, to Greco-Roman sculpture, from silver and ivory of late antiquity, to terracotta works by Bernini.

A significant piece in the exhibition is the plaster cast of the "Pietà" by Michelangelo, made 30 years before the statue was defaced. It made possible the reconstruction of the statue's disfigured face.


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