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Vatican Museums
Musei Vaticani
Lightmatter vaticanmuseum.jpg
Sculptures above the entrance of museums
Vatican Museums is located in Rome
Vatican Museums
Location in Vatican City within Rome
Established 1506
Location Vatican City
Coordinates 41°54′23″N 12°27′16″E / 41.90639°N 12.45444°E / 41.90639; 12.45444Coordinates: 41°54′23″N 12°27′16″E / 41.90639°N 12.45444°E / 41.90639; 12.45444
Type Art museum
Visitors 5.5 million (2013)[1]
Ranking 5th globally (2013)[1]
Director Antonio Paolucci
Website www.museivaticani.va
The Vatican Museums, north of St. Peter's Basilica

The Vatican Museums (Italian: Musei Vaticani) are the museums of the Vatican City and are located within the city's boundaries. They display works from the immense collection built up by the Roman Catholic Church throughout the centuries including some of the most renowned classical sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world.

Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century. The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums. In 2013, they were visited by 5.5 million people, which combined makes it the 5th most visited art museum in the world.[1]

There are 54 galleries, or salas, in total,[citation needed] with the Sistine Chapel, notably, being the very last sala within the Museum.


The staircase has two parts, a double helix, and is of shallow incline, being a stepped ramp rather than a true staircase. It is encircles the outer wall of a stairwell of approximately fifteen meters wide and with a clear space at the centre. The balustrade around the ramp is of ornately worked metal.
Spiral stairs of the Vatican Museums, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932.

The Vatican Museums trace their origin to one marble sculpture, purchased 500 years ago: the sculpture of Laocoön and his Sons was discovered 14 January 1506, in a vineyard near the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome. Pope Julius II sent Giuliano da Sangallo and Michelangelo Buonarroti, who were working at the Vatican, to examine the discovery. On their recommendation, the pope immediately purchased the sculpture from the vineyard owner. The pope put the sculpture of Laocoön and his sons on public display at the Vatican exactly one month after its discovery.

The Museum Christianum was founded by Benedict XIV, and some of the Vatican collections formed the Lateran Museum, which Pius IX founded by decree in 1854.[2]

The Museums celebrated their 500th anniversary in October 2006 by permanently opening the excavations of a Vatican Hill necropolis to the public.[3]

Pinacoteca Vaticana[edit]

The art gallery was housed in the Borgia Apartment, until Pope Pius XI ordered construction of a proper building. The new building was inaugurated on October 27, 1932.[4] The designer was Luca Beltrami. The museum has paintings including:

Collection of Modern Religious Art[edit]

The Collection of Modern Religious Art houses paintings and sculptures from artists like Carlo Carrà and Giorgio de Chirico.

Sculpture museums[edit]

The group of museums includes several sculpture museums surrounding the Cortile del Belvedere.

Museo Pio-Clementino[edit]

Photo of a gallery in the museum. It is in the Classical style and has a wide arched roof with skylights. The colour scheme is blue-grey and white with a polychrome marble floor. The walls of each side of the gallery have a row of large niches in which stand marble statues. Between the niches are plinths supporting smaller portrait sculptures.
The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo built by Raphael Stern

Pope Clement XIV founded the Pio-Clementino museum in 1771, and originally it contained the Renaissance and antique works. The museum and collection were enlarged by Clement's successor Pius VI. Today, the museum houses works of Greek and Roman sculpture. Some notable galleries are:

  • Greek Cross Gallery: (Sala a Croce Greca): with the porphyri sarcophagi of Constance and Saint Helen, daughter and mother of Constantine the Great.
  • Sala Rotonda: shaped like a miniature Pantheon, the room has impressive ancient mosaics on the floors, and ancient statues lining the perimeter, including a gilded bronze statue of Hercules.
  • Gallery of the Statues (Galleria delle Statue): as its name implies, holds various important statues, including Sleeping Ariadne and the bust of Menander. It also contains the Barberini Candelabra.
  • Gallery of the Busts (Galleria dei Busti): Many ancient busts are displayed.
  • Cabinet of the Masks (Gabinetto delle Maschere): The name comes from the mosaic on the floor of the gallery, found in Villa Adriana, which shows ancient theater masks. Along the walls, several famous statues are shown including the Three Graces.One wove the thread of life,second nurtured it, third cut it. They were created by Zeus ( ROMAN FORM:Jupiter)
  • Sala delle Muse: Houses the statue group of Apollo and the nine muses, uncovered in a Roman villa near Tivoli in 1774, as well as and statues by important ancient Greek or Roman sculptors. the center piece is Belvedere Torso, revered by Michelangelo and other Renaissance men.[5]
  • Sala degli Animali: So named because of the many ancient statues of animals.

Museo Chiaramonti[edit]

This museum is named after Pope Pius VII (whose last name was Chiaramonti before his election as pope), who founded it in the early 19th century. The museum consists of a large arched gallery in which sides are exhibited several statues, sarcophaguses and friezes. The New Wing, Braccio Nuovo built by Raphael Stern, houses important statues like The Prima Porta Augustus, Doryphorus, and The River Nile. Galeria Lapidaria is another part of Chiaramonti museum, with more than 3,000 stone tablets and inscriptions, which is the world's greatest collection of its kind. However, it is opened only by special permission, usually for reasons of study.

Museo Gregoriano Etrusco[edit]

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1836, this museum has eight galleries and houses important Etruscan pieces, coming from archaeological excavations.[6] The pieces include: vases, sarcophagus, bronzes and the Guglielmi Collection.

Museo Gregoriano Egiziano[edit]

Founded by Pope Gregory XVI in 1839, this museum houses a grand collection of Ancient Egyptian material.[7] Such material includes papyruses, the Grassi Collection, animal mummies, and reproductions of the famous Book of the Dead.[8]

Vatican Historical Museum[edit]

The Vatican Historical Museum (Italian: Museo storico vaticano) was founded in 1973 at the behest of Pope Paul VI,[9] and was initially hosted in environments under the Square Garden. In 1987 it was moved to the main floor of the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran and opened in March 1991.

The Vatican Historical Museum has a unique collection of portraits of the Popes from the sixteenth century to date, the memorable items of the Papal Military Corps of the 16–17th centuries and old religious paraphernalia related to rituals of the papacy. Also on display on the lower floor are the papamobili (Popemobiles); carriages and motorcars of Popes and Cardinals, including the first cars used by Popes.[10]

Highlights from the Painting Collection[edit]

Other Highlights in the Museum[edit]


Usually more than 4 million people visit the Museums every year. In 2011, the number of visitors reached 6 million. (by Editor Report Antonio Paolucci in "L'Osservatore Romano" of January 10, 2012)

On the last Sunday of each month, the Vatican Museum is open to the public for free. This is extremely popular and it is common for people to wait in line for many hours. The other days of the week you can use the online ticket office to purchase an individual ticket or group tour ticket, either of which will enable you to bypass the ticket line completely. This image is a panoramic view of one small stretch of the entire queue in April 2007, which continues for some distance in both directions beyond view.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Top 100 Art Museum Attendance, The Art Newspaper, 2014. Retrieved on 13 July 2014.
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Christian Museums". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913. 
  3. ^ Barbara McMahon in Rome. "Guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  4. ^ "Pinacoteca". Mv.vatican.va. 1932-10-27. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  5. ^ Montebello, Philippe De; Kathleen Howard (1983). "Sala delle Muse". The Vatican: Spirit and Art of Christian Rome. Metropolitan Museum of Art. pp. 178–180. ISBN 9780870993480. 
  6. ^ "Museo Gregoriano Etrusco". Mv.vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  7. ^ "Gregorian Egyptian Museum". Mv.vatican.va. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]
  9. ^ Guida ai musei e alla Città del Vaticano. Ediz. inglese (in Italian). Edizioni Musei Vaticani. 1986. ISBN 978-88-86921-11-4. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  10. ^ "Museo Storico Vaticano (San Giovanni)". 060608.it. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Museums — Please support Wikipedia.
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51 news items

WDIV Detroit

Bangor Daily News
Thu, 21 Aug 2014 11:45:00 -0700

In that role, Szoka also oversaw restorations of the Vatican Museums and Renaissance artist Michelangelo's landmark artistry in the Sistine Chapel. In that post, Szoka was the boss for 1,400-plus Vatican employees, including police and postal workers, ...


Tue, 19 Aug 2014 01:40:46 -0700

Visitors to the 9/11 Museum in New York are expected to pay $24 (£14.40) for the privilege, the Vatican Museums in Rome costs €16.00 (£12.80) to enter, while tickets for the Hermitage in Amsterdam are €15 (£12). The extortionate entry fees for the ...
Venere Travel Blog (blog)
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 06:10:06 -0700

Ticket prices for entering the Vatican's museums can cost less during off peak seasons. Prices can be significantly reduced during the winter months when there are less tourists around. Beat the queues by booking in advance. You will have more time to ...

New York Times

New York Times
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:01:28 -0700

In a telephone interview, Antonio Paolucci, the director of the Vatican Museums, said his institution was in a bind: To safeguard the frescoes, attendance should not be allowed to increase, he said, but “the Sistine Chapel has a symbolic, religious ...
FiveThirtyEight (blog)
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:54:04 -0700

Lots of people visit it — in 2013, about 5.5 million people visited the Vatican Museums while 6.6 million attended some sort of public event with the Pope, such as in St. Peter's Square. Even assuming that there was some overlap between these groups ...
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:52:30 -0700

The city state, or governorate, operates the Vatican's commercial services. It resembles a medium-size municipal government. The city state has excellent sources of revenue. It garners about $130 million a year, and rising, from the thriving Vatican ...
Monroe News Star
Sun, 17 Aug 2014 05:56:15 -0700

"The privilege of a private after — hours visit to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel was another amazing moment Tauck created for us during our trip. To have the chance to access and appreciate one of the most extraordinary treasures in the world ...


The Nonprofit Quarterly
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 07:15:00 -0700

As reported here, in 2013, the Vatican Museums set a record with 5.5 million visitors, a number expected to rise this year to 6 million. The large numbers seem to be driven by countries with emerging middle classes, primarily those in Asia and Eastern ...

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