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An Evolution of the Human Spirit as Seen Through Mosaic Art: Mosaics from the Vatican Studio 

The Ursuline Convent in the French Quarter, in case you've forgotten, is very old, dating from 1752. Now it finally has some contents that are even older -- Vatican mosaics dating in some cases to the 15th century. Some are more modern, but the same mastery of materials prevails. An ancient craft, mosaics were usually found on the floors, vaults and vestibules of early churches, while other prominent places featured oil paintings. At St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, unstable environmental conditions inspired a plan to use mosaics more extensively. The Vatican's Fabbrica di San Pietro laboratory ultimately provided master mosaic artists with more than 15,000 shades of opaque colored glass for their work. The 37 works in this show illustrate their legendary virtuosity. -- D. Eric Bookhardt

Through June 1

Ursuline Convent, 1100 Chartres St., 529-3040; www.vaticanmosaics.com

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