In December 2016 Pope Frances announced the appointment of Barbara Jatta as the new director of the Vatican Museums–the illustrious institute’s first female director. An esteemed art historian, Jatta has worked at the Vatican Museums for 22 years before becoming Vice Director in June 2016. Jatta now oversees the directorship of what Pope Francis has deemed a “temple of art and culture.”
Vogue and Vanity Fair featured articles on Jatta’s appointment in their March 2018 issues. “She is someone who delights in opening up and sharing her knowledge,” notes Hugo Chapman, Simon Sainsbury Keeper of Prints & Drawings at the British Museum “That openness, intelligence, determination, and lashings of charm and diplomacy are, I’m sure, all required in the Vatican, which is a male-dominated court.”
Jatta characterizes her new life as “busy, busy, busy: more and more. There are so many different things you have to deal with at the same time,” from administration projects to restoration, conferences, lectures, meetings, exhibitions, and cultural diplomacy. “You’re giving the message in terms of what the Vatican Museums are.” She is currently working on an exhibition at the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso in Mexico City celebrating two millennia of the papacy, from St. Peter to Pope Francis.
Jatta’s style–monochromatic neutrals in navy, white, grey, olive, occasionally heightened by a dash of color–epitomize a stylish and elegant professionalism. One particularly flattering ensemble consists of a dress, often in navy, under a long open lwaterfall cardigan. Jatta also favors long necklaces–a delicate long gold chain or pearls. But it’s the high quality of these classic pieces which strike the eye. The sweaters flow gracefully and the dresses, never uncomfortably tight, drape her frame perfectly allowing her to move with ease through long work days. Her haircut too has the same elegant classicism–lightly flipped at the ends and parted on the side. The style works brilliantly for Jatta–and offers a model for others.